360 Signature Net Zero Ready Designs

Plans in the 360 Signature Collection are designed to meet the US Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home V2 green building certification in certain US climate zones.  (This is one of the most stringent green building standards in the country.)  Your 360 Signature plans will come with a set of specifications around the insulation, mechanical, lighting, plumbing, appliance, and solar-ready features required to achieve this stringent energy efficient standard (solar electricity itself not required.)

Why Certify?

There are many reasons to choose to get certified through the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program. Such homes are built with best practices around energy performance, comfort, air quality, and sustainability, as determined by the US Department of Energy. These homes have been verified on site by a local HERS Rater. They are exceptionally comfortable, and are ready for future use of solar and all-electric energy grids.  In some cases, builders can get a $5,000 federal income tax credit.  

Watch the DOE’s video about Zero Energy Ready Home below:


Work to be Done

Certification will require work on your part, however.  Participating in any third-party certification program requires following all program requirements while building, including hiring a Zero Energy Ready Home Verifier to complete an official energy model, come to the site during construction to do key inspections and tests, and issue the final paperwork.  

Read more about the process of green building certification—whether it is through the Zero Energy Ready  Home, or any other program—here.  

*Climate Zone Exclusions

The exact insulation details needed depend on your US climate zone as determined by the International Building Code, and also depend on your design wind speed and wind package from Deltec.  Currently, plans are designed to achieve this certification up to US climate zone 5 (figure out your climate zone here) at base wind speeds, up to US climate zone 4 if you are in an area that needs our high wind package, and US climate zone 3 if you are in an area that needs both our High Wind Package and Impact Resistant window package. (Lean more about 360 Signature wind packages here.)

Net-Zero Ready chart

Clients building in colder climate zones can still build a 360 Signature home and meets (or likely, exceeds) energy code in your area, but such plans are not designed specifically to achieve Zero Energy Ready Home Certification specifically in those areas.  That’s because in colder climate zones, more aggressive wall insulation and triple pane windows are typically needed to get energy scores that low.  Those products are available on custom Deltecs built through our 360 Design Studio.  

Mechanical and electrical plans are not included for Caribbean jobs and net-zero ready design is not applicable to this location. This is because the Caribbean encompasses an array of international jurisdictions and a local architect may be needed to create appropriate electrical and mechanical plans; in addition, the US Department of Energy does not offer the Zero Energy Ready Home program in those areas.

What are some example features that make these designs so energy efficient? 

The exact features depend on the model, but here is a general summary: 

  • Simple round homes have less exterior surface area than same-sized rectangular homes, reducing heat transfer and allowing for more air-tight construction 
  • Insulation values are specified that meet or exceed the newest energy code, including our Energy Wall system offering superior insulation and air-tightness, and Energy Star Certified windows from Marvin 
  • Heating and cooling systems are specified as high efficiency heat pumps
  • Mechanical fresh air ventilation is specified,and supplemental whole-house de-humidification is specified if required in your climate zone (supplemental dehumidification is required in humid climates)
  • EPA Energy Star Certified lighting and appliances are specified, including a high efficiency induction range, EPA WaterSense labeled water efficient fixtures
  • Low emitting and Low-VOC products are used throughout Deltec’s shell materials, and specified throughout the interior and exterior 
  • A highly efficient heat pump water heater is specified on most models
  • Electric-Vehicle ready design with a pewire for an EV charging area identified on electrical plan (actually putting in an EV charger is optional)
  • Electrical plans feature solar-photovoltaic-ready design on larger models (actual solar photovoltaic system is optional)

Don’t these features add cost?

Maybe, but it depends on what you are comparing to.  In really rough numbers, we estimate that these features might add $7-8K to the total build costs, when compared to base efficiency alternatives, which is generally less than 2% of total build costs.  But energy savings of tens of thousands of dollars are possible over the lifetime of the home.

What’s the difference between a net-zero home, a net-zero ready home, a DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, and an off-grid home?  

These are all great green building terms to be aware of.  A net-zero home is generally defined as a highly energy efficient home that uses on-site solar PV to generate all of the energy it needs for a year, usually in a grid-tied setup.  A net-zero ready home uses many energy efficient features to make powering it with solar easy, but doesn’t necessarily have to have solar right away–or ever.  When we say net-zero ready here, we are referring specifically to the US DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home Certification program, which requires a list of features and building practices, including on-site verification.  An off-grid home, by contrast, is a home that uses batteries to store solar energy generated on site, without input from the power company.  Although those homes are also technically net-zero homes, and some Deltec clients have built these homes, they are still less common and practical due to high up front costs of batteries and limitations in system design needed to keep the battery costs down.  

Do I have to do the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Program when buying a 360 Signature Home?

No, this certification is totally optional! Do note that although we are providing plans and specifications able to achieve the Zero Energy Ready Home program, it is not a complete set of specs for doing so,  and you must do more work on site to finalize certification, as described above. But if you prefer not to certify, and to use different insulation, electrical, mechanical, or appliance specifications to finish out your home on site, that is perfectly fine. 

Award-Winning Experience

Multiple past Deltec projects building to the Zero Energy Ready Home have won Housing Innovation Awards from the US Department of Energy.  You can browse our awards page here.