Home Innovation News

National definition paves the way for new NGBS Green certification badge.

June 21, 2024 | Upper Marlboro, MD

Zero Emissions Building: The DOE’s New Definition

In a highly anticipated announcement, the U.S. Department of Energy has announced their National Definition of a Zero Emissions Building (ZEB). This initiative is part of DOE’s broader efforts to develop standards for zero emissions, marking a significant step towards a more sustainable future in the construction industry. 

The NGBS Green team at Home Innovation Research Labs assisted the DOE in developing this national definition, starting in October 2023. The team participated in a feedback session at the GreenBuild conference, which was instrumental in gathering insights from various stakeholders and laying the groundwork for the ZEB definition. Throughout the winter of 2024, the team engaged in in-depth discussions with stakeholders to review and refine the draft definition. By the summer of 2024, they had the opportunity to review the updated definition with White House staff, exploring the potential for the NGBS Green program to adopt this definition. 

Alignment with NGBS Criteria

The DOE's ZEB definition aligns seamlessly with the energy efficiency and renewable energy practices embedded within the current NGBS Green program. In recognizing the DOE ZEB definition, we aim to offer NGBS Green Partners a streamlined pathway to further reduce emissions from their certified buildings. Here’s how the ZEB definition integrates with NGBS criteria: 

  • Energy Efficiency: The ZEB definition provides multiple compliance methods, most of which have analogous pathways within the 2020 NGBS and the forthcoming 2024 NGBS. These include energy modeling and ENERGY STAR certification.
  • Free of On-Site Emissions from Energy Use: NGBS Green compliance requires energy modeling that includes information about greenhouse gas emissions from energy use. The NGBS also features optional practices for utilizing on-site or purchased renewable energy.
  • Powered Solely from Clean Energy: The NGBS includes practices for integrating renewable energy sources, further aligning with the ZEB's clean energy requirements.

Introducing the NGBS Green +ZERO EMISSIONS Certification

In line with the new ZEB definition, we are excited to announce the NGBS Green +ZERO EMISSIONS certification. This “add-on” recognition will be designed for buildings pursuing the 2024 NGBS Green Certification and will be applicable to new and existing homes, as well as multifamily and mixed-use buildings, without limitations based on the energy compliance path selected.

The NGBS Green +ZERO EMISSIONS certification will encompass a three-part compliance framework inspired by the ZEB definition focused on Energy Efficiency, Free of On-Site Emissions from Energy Use, and Powered Solely from Clean Energy. 

Michelle Foster, our Vice President of Sustainability, expressed her enthusiasm for this new initiative: "We are thrilled to offer NGBS Green +ZERO EMISSIONS certification based on DOE’s ZEB definition. Like with the present NGBS Green Certification offerings, we aim to provide a rigorous yet affordable choice to the building industry. The NGBS Green +ZERO EMISSIONS certification will recognize buildings that have achieved exceptional energy efficiency, utilized renewable energy sources, and have minimal environmental impact. By setting a high bar for green building practices, we aim to inspire more sustainable construction and drive the transition towards a low-carbon future."

Details on compliance and an overview of this new certification will be published upon the release of the 2024 NGBS later this year. 

ABOUT: Home Innovation Research Labs, located in Upper Marlboro, Md., is a full-service research, testing, and consulting firm determined to improve the quality, durability, affordability, and environmental performance of single- and multifamily homes and home building products – in short, we aim to perfect the home. Founded in 1964 as a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), our team has been integral in solving many of our client’s most difficult product and technology issues, and helping to introduce some of the most groundbreaking innovations in construction. Through an interdisciplinary research approach – including market research, building science analysis, laboratory testing, and standards development – we help to find a home for innovation in the construction industry.

NOTE TO EDITORS ON STYLE USAGE: To identify this company and its work correctly, first reference should be "Home Innovation Research Labs." In subsequent mentions, “Home Innovation” should be used; we are not identified by an acronym. Prior to February 12, 2013, the company was known as the NAHB Research Center.