DOE Partnering with Passive House Group

August 20, 2012

A new voluntary certification process for "zero net energy ready homes" is being developed by the Department of Energy's Challenge Home program and the Passive House Institute US. The program is designed to provide a way for builders to identify "homes that are so energy-efficient, they can offset most or all of their utility bills with a small renewable energy system."

DOE's Challenge Home program certifies homes that are 40 percent to 50 percent more energy efficient than typical homes, while also helping to minimize the risk of indoor air quality problems and ensuring compatibility with renewable energy systems, officials state. Through the Challenge Home program and its original Builders Challenge specifications, DOE has certified more than 13,500 homes. Among these certified homes, more than 1,350 are considered zero-net energy ready homes based on Home Energy Rating System scores of 55 or lower.

The new DOE/PHIUS partnership is said to provide a seamless path for builders to achieve maximum energy efficiency by providing Challenge Home certification as a first step to passive house certification by PHIUS. The organization currently certifies building designs that are 65 percent to 75 percent more energy efficient than a typical new home under its program.  It also has trained nearly 400 construction professionals to build these homes, it is noted.

Under the new partnership, DOE and PHIUS will also jointly promote each other's programs, and share information on program participation results.