US Department of Energy awards highest level of certification to two H&H homes

The US Department of Energy just granted its highest level of green home certification, “Zero Energy Ready Home,” to Karuna House and Pumpkin Ridge Passive House, both built by Hammer & Hand.

“A DOE Zero Energy Ready Home is a high performance home which is so energy efficient that a renewable energy system can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption.

Only a select group of the top builders in the country meet the extraordinary levels of excellence and quality specified by the US Department of Energy guidelines.”

– US Department of Energy

To be clear, Karuna and Pumpkin Ridge aren’t just “ready.” They have already achieved  “zero energy” or better thanks to their 10kW solar PV arrays. But we like the DOE’s decision to focus on the energy efficient, zero energy “readiness” of homes with this top certification. It rightly prioritizes the conservation side of the “conservation + generation = zero energy” equation. You can’t achieve the certification by slapping tons of PV panels on a conventional house; the house itself has to perform to high standards.

This focus dovetails perfectly with the Passive House approach to construction and its emphasis on low energy loads. DOE recognizes this, and views Passive House (PHIUS+) as a close parallel to its Zero Energy Ready Homes certification. (NOTE: visit our Passive House and Zero Energy Homes pages for more about our approach, including project examples and video.) In the chart below, the two green, high performing bars depict how DOE measures the superiority of Passive House and Zero Energy Ready Homes compared to Energy Star and conventional homes (gray and black, respectively).

Zero Energy Ready Home graph

The chart also makes the case that Zero Energy Ready Homes (and Passive Houses) achieve much more than great energy efficiency. They make occupants healthy and happy. (For more about health, happiness, and legacy building, see the post, “Legacy Building: Reaching Net Zero, Part III.”)

P.S. DOE’s certification of Karuna and Pumpkin Ridge comes on the heels of national recognition for the two projects: both won 2014 Green Home of the Year awards from Green Builder magazine.


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