EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is part of a series in GBA’s new Expert Exchange program. We will address a quarterly set of topics, the first of which is “Getting to Net Zero.” The series will culminate with a webinar panel discussion among contributing experts.
Armando Cobo is a residential designer and a regular contributor at Green Building Advisor. He’s one of the sites “Expert Members.” Many years ago, Cobo put a stake in the ground. Going forward, all of his homes would be zero-energy ready. To achieve that goal and to assure his clients they are getting what they paid for, Cobo began using the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home program, which he helped launch and teach to other building professionals.
After considering the potential of other green building standards, Cobo landed on the side of the DOE program. What distinguishes it in his mind is its straightforward use of metrics like the HERS index, and the requirements for verification. “Compared to other green building programs where you can get points for installing a bike rack, this program simplified what it takes to build a better house,” he said. “And there’s a lot to be said for third-party verification.”
The DOE is currently in the public-comment period for the first update to its Zero Energy Ready Home program, which launched in 2013 and has certified homes in all climate zones across the country. I recently had the chance to catch up with Cobo and a team of DOE employees and contractors to learn more about the program, which it turns out, is less about the common definition of zero-energy home and more about moving toward zero emissions while building durable, comfortable, and healthy homes, that keep affordability in mind.
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