What To Expect
Image source: BarlisWedlick Architects
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.
Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home
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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:
More than 79,000 projects are participating in LEED across 160 countries and territories, comprising over 15 billion square feet.
On average, certified homes use 20 to 30 percent less energy than non-green homes, with some homes saving up to 60 percent.
LEED projects are responsible for diverting over 80 million tons of waste from landfills.
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
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.
Design by George Penniman Architects,
Quick Facts About Energy Star:
Over 2.2 million ENERGY STAR certified homes have been built to date, including more than 120,000 in 2020 alone.
More than 70,000 homeowners retrofitted their homes through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program in 2020, for a total of nearly 950,000 to date.
One out of every 12 single-family homes built in 2020 was ENERGY STAR certified.
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.
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.
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.
$235,000,000 in annual energy savings for HERS rated homes in the US in 2018
The 236,000 homes that were HERS rated in the US annually reduces over 1 million tons of carbon production every year
Green Star Certification
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.
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:
Green Home Choice Certification