I attended a seminar recently presented by Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect, Department of Energy on the Department of Energy’s program Zero Energy Ready Home certification in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A DOE Zero Energy Ready Home is a high performance home which is so efficient, that a renewable energy system can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption.
This program, once called Challenge Home, focuses on conservation strategies to reduce energy load and prepping the home for solar PV panels. It includes a certification for the Zero Energy Ready Home program and also Energy Star and Water Sense. The basis of the program is a sound understanding of building science. From thermal envelope to efficient HVAC, windows, and water heating system the program helps you know which solution will contribute to efficiency. The difference in this program and others I have seen comes from being a performance based certification instead of points based. However, for us, as long as the right tests are performed at the close of construction, the certification is only valuable for resell.