What Is a Certified Home? 

Home-certification programs require some of the highest levels of energy efficiency, air quality, material sourcing, and durability. Each certification has different standards, but they generally address these components of a home. 

Aside from your mortgage, the highest cost of homeownership is energy bills. With the cost of energy increasing, having a certification and knowing your home's energy performance can tell you how energy efficient it is. Certifications such as LEED, PassiveHaus, and Built Green can increase the value of your home, lower utility costs, and ensure year round comfort. 

Realty Sage makes it easy to search for homes by certification and home types. 


Image source: Hammer & Hand

Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home


Image via Design-Milk

This program recognizes builders for their work and leadership in energy efficient homes by offering partnerships and listings on their partner locator


DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes are verified by a qualified third-party and are at least 40%-50% more energy efficient than a typical new home.


Read about requirements for Zero Energy Ready Homes. 


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

LEED certification provides independent verification of a building or neighborhood’s green features, allowing for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings.

Compared to the average commercial building, LEED Gold buildings in the General Services Administration’s portfolio consume a quarter less energy and generate 34% lower greenhouse gas emissions. Learn more

Quick Facts About LEED Homes:




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Passive House Institute US (PHIUS+) Certification

The PHIUS+ Certification Program is the leading passive building certification program in North America. The PHIUS+ certification targets energy and carbon reduction with cost effectiveness, taking into account a full range of variables including climate zone, source energy, and costs.


A PHIUS+ certification includes:


  • Third-party RESNET approved quality assurance/quality control

  • Earns U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) status

  • Earns U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Indoor airPLUS label

  • Earn HERS rating

  • Learn more


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Images via ZeroEnergy

ENERGY STAR Certification

ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. EPA ensures that each product and home that earns the label is independently certified to deliver high efficiency performance, comfort, and cost savings.

ENERGY STAR certified homes and apartments are at least 10% more energy efficient than those built to code and achieve a 20% improvement on average while providing homeowners and residents with better quality, performance, and comfort. EPA also provides trusted guidance and online tools to help homeowners make smart decisions about improving the energy efficiency of their existing homes.



Quick Facts About Energy Star: 



National Green Building Standard  (NGBS) Green Certification

The NGBS provides a blueprint for builders to follow for the design and construction of new and renovated single-family homes and multifamily apartment buildings. This includes indoor environmental quality, lot development, and water, resource and energy efficiency

The NGBS Green Certification offers four certification levels for homes– Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Emerald. No matter the certification level, the home is green in all aspects and ensures holistic energy efficiency, comfort, and air quality.

Learn more

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Design by architects Rauser Design and built by Risinger Homes

Earth Advantage 

 An Earth Advantage-certified house incorporates design elements, systems and materials that create superior indoor air quality, use natural resources responsibly, protect land, and lower water usage.

Since 2000, over 17,000 homes have been certified across Oregon and SW Washington. Click here to access the homeowner manual for Earth Advantage certified homes. 

Learn more about Earth Advantage Certification


Built Green Certification 


All Built Green homes are designed to reach beyond current Washington state building and energy codes, creating greener homes.

As of 2018, the Built Green program had certified over 32,000 residential housing units, mainly in the Puget Sound area of Northwest Washington and other regions across the state. In 2016, over half of all new homes built in the Seattle area received some level of Built Green certification. 
Learn more

HERS Index 


Design-build studio Martin Construction in collaboration with Amber Interiors

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is a nationally recognized industry standard by which a home's energy efficiency and performance is measured. A HERS index can let you anticipate the costs of energy bills and efficiency upgrades when purchasing a home. Homes with a HERS Index Score have a certified Home Energy Rater assess the energy efficiency of a home and assign it a relative performance score.

The U.S. Department of Energy has determined that a typical resale home scores 130 on the HERS Index while a standard new home is awarded a rating of 100.  The lower the number, the more energy efficient the home and a higher resale price for your home. Learn more

Quick Facts about HERS Certified Homes in the US: 

  • Energy efficient HERS rated homes sell for a premium anywhere from 3.5% to upwards of 9% and more compared to standard homes.




Green Star Certification

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 DeForest Architects in collaboration with NB Design Group,

Formerly the Minnesota GreenStar (MNGS), GreenStar Home Certification is a robust above code renovation, addition & new construction program to the market.

This program ensures healthier, more durable homes that save energy and water thus reducing the cost of living and improving comfort. The GreenStar checklist and manual are available to anyone to use and access for free.  Learn more

 Home Energy Score, Department of Energy (DOE) 

The Home Energy Score estimates home energy use, associated costs, and provides energy solutions to cost-effectively improve the home’s efficiency. Each Home Energy Score is shown on a simple one-to-ten scale, where a ten represents the most efficient homes.

The DOE launched the Home Energy Score program in 2012 in response to the e need for a low-cost, reliable method for homeowners and buyers to understand their homes' energy efficiency. Read about the methodology behind scoring. 

Home Energy Score helps:


  • Provide homeowners and homebuyers knowledge of home energy efficiency and cost-effective improvements in order to reduce energy use and costs.

  • Encourage use of reliable, consistent home energy efficiency information in real estate transactions to inform decisions, and build a market value for comfortable, energy efficient homes.

  • Integrate energy information into financing products to help drive the market for comfortable, energy efficient homes.


 DeForest Architects in collaboration with NB Design Group,

Pearl Certification

Pearl Certification assigns points to home features based on how much they contribute to your home’s performance. Once your home has been evaluated by an elite Pearl Contractor or Real Estate Professional and  receives certification, you get an ongoing source of guidance and practical resources

Assets that have a greater impact on home performance, interact more with your local climate, are more efficient, and have high-quality installation are assigned more points. Learn more


Image by Casey Dunn

Pearl Certification Points can be earned in the following  areas:

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Green Home Choice Certification

Green Home Choice is a free, voluntary green home certification program sponsored by Arlington County. The homes are awarded points for being energy and resource efficient, sustainable and for providing a healthy living environment.

In addition to certificates, program participants are offered lawn signs, free expert project consulting throughout the project 
recognition by the County Board in an annual reception, media attention and builder and designer recognition on this website. Learn more

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