RESNET Ratings Qualify DOE Challenge Homes

Last Updated:
Thu, 2018-04-26 12:03

The green building industry is constantly evolving with new innovations to enhance, verify, and promote energy efficiency in homes. The latest effort by the Department of Energy (DOE) is an updated building technologies program called Challenge Home (formerly known as the Builders Challenge Program). The program is designed to guide and recognize builders who are leaders in energy efficiency.

About Challenge Home

The DOE ChalU.S. DOE Challenge Home logolenge Home Program is a convergence of many standards, rolled into one comprehensive, forward thinking program that sets out to make homes zero net energy ready. The program is based on the building science of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR for Homes standard and incorporates additional building codes, as well as several EPA programs. It’s an opportunity for builders to partner with the Department of Energy to achieve high levels of home performance. The resulting certification provides consumers with a method for comparing the efficiency of one home to another, enabling more informed buying decisions.


The guidelines put forth in the Challenge Home Program support the “house-as-a-system” approach, taking into account various components that contribute to performance levels. Requirements include:

  • Complying with ENERGY STAR for Homes Version 3 requirements for thermal enclosure, HVAC quality installation, water management, and target home/size adjustment factor
  • Installing ENERGY STAR qualified appliances
  • Using windows that meet ENERGY STAR specifications
  • Improving indoor air quality by complying with EPA’s Indoor airPLUS checklist. (New Homes can earn an Indoor airPLUS label through the addition of specific design and construction features aimed at protecting homes from moisture and airborne pollutants).
  • Meeting 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) Levels
  • Installing ducts in conditioned space
  • Conserving water and energy through an efficient hot water distribution system. Participation in the EPA WaterSense program is encouraged. (New homes can earn a WaterSense label by meeting specific design requirements for reduced water use indoors and out.)
  • Following key provisions from the EPA Renewable Energy Ready Home (RERH) solar electric and solar thermal guides. (RERH specifications help builders to equip homes with features to make it easier and less expensive to install solar energy systems after construction is completed.)


To ensure that homes meet specifications set forth in the various standards included in the DOE Challenge Home program, homebuilders rely upon RESNET Home Energy Raters to inspect and test homes. RESNET’s third-party verification is required in order to qualify for the program and earn certification.

The RESNET HERS rating is used to determine the home’s overall level of energy efficiency and a certificate is issued to verify the HERS Index score. A DOE Challenge Home will typically have a HERS score ranging in the mid to low 50s, depending upon the size and location of the home. Based on how the HERS Index works, an average new home that complies with local energy codes scores a 100. Therefore, a DOE Challenge Home with a score in the 50s is 50% more energy efficient than the typical home.

Commitment To The Future

The updated DOE Challenge Home program further strengthens our nation’s commitment to the design and construction of homes with higher levels of energy savings, durability, comfort, health, and safety. Designing for future renewable energy systems sets the industry on a path for even greater efficiency going forward. As part of quality management practices, and an ongoing commitment to success, buyers are asked to grant the DOE Home Challenge program access to one year of utility bill data for performance monitoring.

The HERS Index continues to gain momentum as an important tool in consistently measuring and verifying home performance. RESNET Home Energy Raters play an integral role in the processes to earn certifications and confirm adherence to strict standards. If you are interested in pursing a career in green building and home performance, find out more by checking out Everblue’s RESNET HERS Rater and Energy Star V3 training classes.

By Amy Malloy

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