Buildings play a significant role in reaching the White House’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, so it is critical that building professionals are prepared to design and construct high-efficiency, low-carbon buildings powered by renewables. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Design Designation recognizes post-secondary academic programs that prepare students for 21st century building careers.

Schools interested in being recognized by DOE must demonstrate a commitment to preparing students for a zero-carbon future by offering a building science education curriculum within their programs of study that showcases best practices in zero energy design, and requiring a zero energy design practicum. To be recognized, schools must show that their program(s) of study require at least one option from each of the following columns in the table below for graduation:

Zero Energy Design Designation logo.

The 2023 application period has closed. Check back in the fall to see the recipients.

Building Science Education Curriculum

Zero Energy Design Practicum

Option 1: Solar Decathlon Building Science Education learning modules

Option 1: Solar Decathlon Design and/or Build Challenge through final submission (even if not selected as a finalist team)

Option 2: School-created building science education program addressing required learning objectives (detailed in application)

Option 2: A zero energy building design project meeting DOE Zero Energy Ready Home certification or more stringent

Watch the 2023 ZEDD Webinar

Learn how your academic program can earn the Zero Energy Design Designation by viewing the 2023 ZEDD webinar. The webinar is intended to help potential applicants begin preparations to apply in the spring of 2023. Hear from participating faculty and learn how your college or university program could earn this three-year designation, the timeline, how to apply, and get answers to questions. Watch a recording of the webinar online.

ZEDD Application Process

The 2023 application for this three-year designation has closed. Receive details about the next ZEDD application cycle by signing up with your email address below. If you have questions about the process, email

Meet the 2023 ZEDD Cohort

DOE announced its second Zero Energy Design Designation cohort in September 2023. The 22 programs from 14 institutions were recognized on the DOE website, on social media, and in high school outreach. The designation can be renewed every three years. Learn more about the 2023 designees.

Ask us a Question

To learn more about the designation, view the recording from the informational webinar on May 16, 2022. A flyer that summarizes the program is also available. Email with questions.