Consider joining the Challenge if you are building in an Eversource or UI service territory, are participating in the Residential New Construction program, and are building with advanced designs and integrated systems. There is no cost to join the Challenge and your work will be showcased.
Zero Energy Challenges
Zero Energy Challenge Home
- 2019 Challenge Winners
- Building a Net Zero Energy Home
- Qualifications and Requirements
- Previous Challenge and Award Winners
- HERs & HERs Raters
- Find a Distributor
All participating projects have to meet the following criteria:
- All homes entered in the competition must also be participants in the Residential New Construction (RNC) incentive program. Through this program these homes (and all other participating RNC homes) are eligible to receive incentives for energy efficient features including:
- ENERGY STAR® home certification,
- geothermal systems,
- HVAC equipment, and
- hot water heaters.
- Any market rate or low-income home/unit in Connecticut that falls under the residential designation within the Connecticut state building code. This includes single-family attached and detached homes, multi-family homes, condos and townhouses. Multifamily attached projects must be less than three stories to be considered residential.
- The home must be projected to be completed and tested prior to December 1, 2019.
- For multifamily attached projects, only one unit per project is eligible. The HERS Index for the selected unit will be the average of all neighboring units for the given project.
- Homes must be built in the service territory of one of the participating utilities and must be a customer of that utility.
- While there is no maximum allowed initial HERS Index, the homes selected to participate will be expected to achieve an Index no higher than 45 without accounting for renewable technologies (solar PV, wind, etc.).
- The home must be a new residential project or a complete gut rehab; modifications to pre-existing homes are not eligible.
- HERs criteria:
- Home plans must be analyzed and scored by a certified HERS rating professional prior to the start of construction.
- Homes will also be tested and scored by a HERS professional once construction is complete.
- The HERS professional will submit electronic REM/Rate™ files to the Challenge Sponsors for review and validation in order to determine eligibility and competition winners.
- Single-family participants will be given a $500 incentive to help defray the cost of the HERS Rating, while multifamily participants will receive $250 per unit.
- All owner occupied homes that are eligible for solar PV rebates through the CT Green Bank, MUST plan to install solar PV upon completion of the home to be eligible to participate.
- Since builders of non-owner occupied units are not eligible for solar PV rebates through the CT Green Bank, they will be given a "simulated" PV system equal to 1kW per 1,000 square feet of living space if they do not elect to install PV upon completion of the home. As such, the home must be designed to be "PV ready."
Selecting the Participants
In addition to ensuring the applicants meet the minimum criteria, the sponsors will also be looking for diversity within the projects in terms of utility provider, geographic location, building design, heating and cooling equipment, and project type (single family, multifamily, low income, etc.). Emphasis will also be placed on the cost effectiveness of the project, the home's projected total annual net operating cost, the home's size, and the steps the builder/homeowner has taken to first maximize energy efficiency and subsequently focus on on-site generation.
Determining the Winners
To determine the winner of the Challenge, the Energy Efficiency Fund program administrators will rank the homes in four key categories that are designed to concurrently promote energy efficiency, affordability, and replication. Each category will carry equal weight. The categories are:
- The home's final HERS Index (with renewable adjustment, if necessary) using REM/Rate™. The REM file will be reviewed by Energy Efficiency Fund program administrators for accuracy. The Fund's program administrators reserve the right to reject and/or adjust REM files if they do not agree with the inputs or assumptions.
- The home's final HERS Index without renewable technology. (Same rules apply as stated above.)
- The net cost of the project based on price/square foot of conditioned living space, excluding land at fair market value (cost plus). The cost of the home will be the gross amount and will not include any rebates, incentives or tax credits.
- The home's estimated total annual net operating cost (based on current utility rates at end of Challenge) using REM Rate.
The overall winner will possess the best aggregate score, and will receive the top cash prize. Individual category winners will also be recognized and awarded cash prizes.
In deciding the overall winners, and in the case of a tie, additional consideration will be given to those homes that also utilize non-energy-related green building features, including those related to water efficiency, materials use, advanced framing, and waste and site management.
In order to ensure compliance with the rules, and as a way to document the process throughout the project, each builder agrees to:
- Occasional inspections
- Status reports
- Monitoring and evaluations on behalf of the appropriate service provider
Participants also agree to take part in promotional activities including media events, open houses, publications, and a final awards ceremony.