Professional Builder (12/07/15)
The U.S. Department of Energy's Housing Innovation Award for Zero Energy Ready Homes (ZERH) in 2015 showcased three production and custom-built homes that demonstrate the marketability of ZERH. Although ZERH has been gaining popularity in the custom home market, it also is proving to be good business in the production home market. Homebuilders now have access to well-trained crews that can integrate the best high-performance practices, offering significant risk reduction and product differentiation compared to minimum-code homes. The award-winning homes include Seattle's Dwell Development's homes, which are all built to meet ZERH program criteria. The four-bedroom, 3.5-bath homes stand three levels on slab-on-grade foundations, and also feature rigid XPS foam, walls filled with cellulose insulation, triple-paned windows, and heat recovery ventilators. BPC Green Builders in Connecticut was recognized for its living laboratory home built on the campus of a century-old private school. Traditional in appearance, the home attained certifications for ZERH, the Passive House Living Building Challenge, and LEED. It has a 13.1-kW array of solar panels, a solar thermal water-heating system, low VOC-finishes, Energy Star appliances, triple-paned windows, and a passive solar design. Brightleaf Homes in Illinois was recognized for providing custom homes from a core set of floor plans using the most cost-effective high-performance practices, and doing infill construction of pre-sold homes. Buyers have come to the company specifically seeking zero-energy construction.