WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 22, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — The Energy Department on August 20 announced a new partnership between its Challenge Home program and the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) on a voluntary certification process for energy-efficient homes. The partnership will streamline certifications for homes that can offset most or all of their utility bills with a small renewable energy system. These homes are referred to as “zero net-energy ready” homes. Home builders participating in these certification programs gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace by providing their customers with homes featuring energy savings, among other benefits.
The Energy Department’s Challenge Home program certifies homes that are 40% to 50% more energy efficient than typical homes. It also helps to minimize the risk of indoor air quality problems and ensures compatibility with renewable energy systems. Through the Challenge Home program and its original Builders Challenge specifications, the Department has certified more than 13,500 homes, which are saving consumers more than $10 million each year. Among these certified homes, more than 1,350 are considered zero net-energy ready homes based on Home Energy Rating System (HERS) scores of 55 or lower. PHIUS certifies building designs that are 65% to 75% more energy efficient than a typical new home, even before installing renewable energy systems. PHIUS has also trained nearly 400 construction professionals to build these homes. See the Energy Department Progress Alert.