Aiming to increase national energy and emissions savings by boosting the building industry’s adoption of leading-edge energy-efficient technologies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched Energy Star NextGen Certified Homes and Apartments. A voluntary certification for the nation’s residential new construction sector, the program was developed with funding from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

The Energy Star NextGen certification will recognize homes and apartments with increased energy efficiency and reduced on-site emissions through heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, electric cooking appliances, and residential electric vehicle charging. Compared to typical code-level construction, homes earning the Energy Star NextGen certification will be 20% more efficient and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40%–80%, the EPA says.

Heat Pump
Adobe Stock

“President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is addressing climate challenges head-on and accelerating the adoption of clean, affordable technologies,” says EPA administrator Michael S. Regan. “By collaborating with developers and home builders nationwide, Energy Star NextGen is set to act as a catalyst for the construction of new, energy-efficient homes and apartment buildings. Strategic partnerships like this are not just cutting costs for American families and greenhouse gas emissions — they’re paving the way for a clean energy future for current and future generations.”

Early adopters have already begun to build to the new specifications and include Beazer Homes in Maryland, GreenSmith Builders in Minnesota, New Tradition Homes in Washington, Quantum Equities in Washington, and Thrive Home Builders in Colorado.

“Thrive Home Builders has designed and built Energy Star homes for the last 20 years, and we are excited to continue this partnership by building homes certified in the new Energy Star NextGen program,” says Bill Rectanus, chief operating officer at Thrive. “This program and its focus on efficient, all-electric home technologies aligns with our commitment to above code building practices to bring the highest levels of energy efficiency, healthy indoor air quality, and durability to our homeowners.”

The home builder has already built 13 homes that meet the new Energy Star NextGen certification guidelines in Denver’s historic Loretto Heights community. Thrive says the development itself will eventually host more than 300 Energy Star NextGen rowhomes, townhomes, and single-family homes. Additionally, Thrive’s E-PWR Frequency Collection at Lyric in Lone Tree, Colorado, will feature 54 Energy Star NextGen homes.

The advanced, energy efficient features of the NextGen program include:

  • Multi-speed Heat Pumps
  • Connected Heat Pump Water Heaters
  • Electric Cooktops and Ovens
  • Electric Vehicle Charging Capability

Several utility providers have announced incentives for builders to adopt the certification as well. Spanning from Washington to Maryland, these companies include EmPOWER Maryland, including Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco), and Potomac Edison (PE) in Maryland; Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1 in Washington; Utah Clean Energy; and Xcel Energy in both Colorado and Minnesota.

Energy used in commercial and residential buildings accounts for one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. These same buildings have the potential to cut their emissions by up to 63% by 2030 and up to 70% by 2035, an EPA study last fall estimated. The EPA believes the new Energy Star NextGen certification can play an important role in achieving that goal.