The Department of Energy (DOE) is challenging builders to rethink how technology goes into a green, sustainable home without sacrificing design or budget.

Since 2013, the DOE’s Housing Innovation Award has recognized U.S. homebuilders dedicated to building homes that meet the standards of the department’s Zero Energy Ready program.

“We’ve been working with national laboratories and over a dozen teams of experts to develop the solutions for high-performance homes in the United States. This program brings those solutions to market under the name ‘Zero-Energy-Ready Homes,’” says Sam Rashkin, Housing Innovation Award leader.

TecHome Builder spoke with Rashkin and two winners from this year’s Housing Innovation Award—E2 Homes and Dwell Development—who all shared their perspectives on why builders should care about this unique program.

Recognizing Builders “Ready” for Action

The Zero Energy Ready program has existed since 2008 and lays out new standards for homebuilders to improve thermal performance, IAQ and energy savings.

Essentially, a DOE Zero Energy Ready home is so high-performing and energy efficient that a rooftop solar array can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption. The department added the word “ready” to recognize builders who are looking to go green but may not have the budget for a solar standard.

The Zero Energy program lays the groundwork, while the Innovation Award recognizes builders on the right track.

“The award is really this critical cog to creating a pipeline of great examples of where homes of the future are available today,” says Rashkin.