The Enhanced Energy Efficiency of Zero Energy Ready Homes (ZERH)

Newer homes in a court

Have you done your research on requirements for DOE compliant Zero Energy Ready Homes (ZERH)? Are you worried about changes and new code regulations? Well, here’s some good news — depending on where you work as a contractor, you may already be building homes to the ZERH standard.

Several states and jurisdictions have already adopted the 2021 code and its higher insulation requirements and continued focus on air leakage. For those that are using the new code, it’s not much of a jump to go after the 45L rebates or even Net Zero or ZERH.

In this month’s Building Science Corp. newsletter, Dr. Joe Lstiburek points out: “[i]f you build new homes to comply with the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) you ‘officially’ comply with the Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home Program (ZERH).” And while there are few other government requirements, as far as codes go, you should be in compliance.

What Is a Zero Energy Ready Home?

The definition of what it means for a building to be Zero Energy Ready is relatively simple. Per the DOE website: “A DOE Zero Energy Ready Home is a high-performance home that is so energy efficient that a renewable energy system could offset most or all the home’s annual energy use.”

With that in mind, ZERH requirements are not focused on solar or renewable power generation. Rather, they concentrate on decreasing the demand or amount of energy the building uses. Because of the improvements to the code, full compliance with the 2021 residential code results in building envelopes that use about 40-50% less energy than homes built to the 2006 IRC.

Code improvements have been great for insulation contractors. A lot of hard work has gone into making these changes and driving support for rebates like the 45L, which also helped to encourage adoption. In order to make sure contractors know what it takes to comply and get the most benefit from the new code, IDI offers three-day trainings that focus on code changes and ways for contractors to comply with them while remaining competitive.

If you have cutting edge builders who separate themselves from the pack by building better homes, be sure to share the DOE ZERH website with them where they can find case studies and wall designs. It may help them sell more homes and help you sell more air sealing and insulation.

For any questions about Zero Energy Ready Home requirements, or on any of the products we carry, reach out to your local branch or any of us here at IDI — where we look forward to earning your business every day.


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