Zero Energy Ready Home Communities

A Virginia builder takes his long-time passion for energy efficient homes to Zero Energy Ready Home communities.

Zero Energy Ready Home Communities

Builder/Developer, Jay Epstein, owner of Health E Community Enterprises first began creating efficient homes in the 70’s. He won the very first Energy Value Housing Award for affordable homes in 1997 - the first year the program was offered. And after hearing about the U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home program in 2015, he built a home that eventually received a 2016 Housing Innovation Award.

Epstein’s first Zero Energy Ready Home community, Rocketts Landing, in Richmond, VA, consisted of 28 homes that all had solar panels installed. He was so convinced his customers would see energy savings that his company guaranteed to pay buyers’ energy bills if they exceeded $1.50/day averaged over the course of a year.

To achieve the Zero Energy Ready Home label, homes are required to have the following (as of May 1, 2019):

  1. ENERGY STAR for Homes Baseline
  2. Envelope - Fenestration shall meet or exceed ENERGY STAR requirements
  3. Duct System - Duct distribution systems located within the home’s thermal and air barrier boundary or an optimized location to achieve comparable performance. HVAC air handler is located within the home’s thermal and air barrier boundary
  4. Water Efficiency - Hot water delivery systems (distributed and central) shall meet efficient design requirements
  5. Lighting & Appliances - All installed refrigerators, dishwashers, and clothes washers are ENERGY STAR qualified. 80% of lighting fixtures are ENERGY STAR qualified or ENERGY STAR lamps (bulbs) in minimum 80% of sockets. All installed bathroom ventilation and ceiling fans are ENERGY STAR qualified
  6. IAQ - Certified under EPA Indoor airPLUS 10
  7. Renewable Ready - Provisions of the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home PV-Ready Checklist are Completed

Epstein’s current venture is Walnut Farm, a 75-home community in Virginia’s Williamsburg area that will be a Zero Energy Ready Home community. Homeowners will have three solar options: zero energy-ready, $1.50/day (with 5.4 kW of solar panels installed), or net zero (with 6.8 kW of solar panels installed). Without PV installed, the homes will have HERS ratings in the 40s.

Jay also recently made the switch to Trane’s XV20i and has taken advantage of the benefits of energy efficient variable speed mechanical equipment. Trane recognizes Epstein as a builder who understands it is no longer practical to separate the mechanical design from the building enclosure design.

“These systems are interrelated and therefore they must be designed simultaneously,” says David Maruna, Marketing Leader, Trane Residential. “The result is that we can build healthier homes, homes where people don’t get sick, where they feel comfortable, where they have very low utility bills and that have a lighter touch on the environment. Trane is proud to celebrate High Performance Home construction as it aligns with our overarching sustainability goals.”

Besides Virginia, Zero Energy Ready Home communities have also been built in Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, Florida, and California. Learn more about Zero Energy Ready Homes.


Photo: Health E Community


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