Zero Energy Ready Home

Homeowners are becoming much more aware of high-performance building. Stringent programs such as Passive House, EarthCraft certification and the EPA’s Indoor airPLUS partnership provide healthy, comfortable homes and usually, the added benefit of lowered utility bills. That said, there are some folks pursuing the ultimate in efficiency: a Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH).

What is a Zero Energy Ready Home?

A high-efficiency home able to offset most or all of its annual energy use with renewable energy can be certified as a ZERH under a program run by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

As for the certification’s criteria, the program holds the following areas in high regard:

  • Healthful Environment: Multiple measures are taken to combat airborne irritants and provide clean, fresh air to occupants.
  • Advanced Technology: Building design must be ENERGY STAR® certified and incorporate new technologies and best practices.
  • Comfort Plus: The home must be fully insulated and temperatures must remain even and comfortable for occupants.
  • Ultra-Efficient: The home must use solar panels or another renewable energy source to offset total annual energy use.
  • Quality Built: Best construction practices are required and independent verifiers must inspect system installation and operation.
  • Durability: Quality and value should be present in all components of the house which will allow it to endure many years and weather conditions.

Builders can have a competitive advantage while meeting the challenges of applying DOE ZERH standards. Not only do customers receive a home defined by wellness, efficiency and great design, but often, builders who make the effort are recognized for meeting extraordinary levels of industry excellence.

Benefits of Building a ZERH

For example, Imery Group, design-built the Monroe Farmhouse, a 1,863-square-foot, three bedroom home in Monroe, Georgia. When the homeowner came to Imery Group with three set goals: 1. Consume minimal energy; 2. Incur no debt and 3. Utilize materials that have longevity, they decided to strive for ZERH certification.

“Everything we do as a company focuses on value and quality. Not only the economic value of a high-performance building but the social and environmental values to the greater community as well,” notes Luis Imery, owner, Imery Group.

With the Monroe Farmhouse, Luis stood by his philosophy, developing a tightly-built home that makes exceptional use of the building materials and systems. And the accolades don’t lie. After review by a green verifier, the home has a confirmed HERS score of -13 (with the use of solar panels). In addition, ENERGY STAR, EPA Indoor airPLUS and EarthCraft™ Comfort and Performance certifications were achieved. The utility savings are also outstanding with a calculated annual energy cost savings of $2,150, and a projected $90,000 in 30-year savings. The farmhouse is a testament to the efficiency of good design.

This good design earned Imery Group the 2019 U.S. DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Housing Innovation Awards win in the small custom category. For all the effort required for a ZERH, the benefits are worth it to a builder. With the success of this project, Imery Group has a competitive advantage in obtaining more design-build projects with exceptionally high-performance criteria. Industry partners are also likely to seek out Imery Group for consulting, since they have proven building science knowledge.

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Photo courtesy of Imery Group