Efficient Homes

Certified Homes/Next Step Site-Built Homes

Building higher performing and more comfortable homes

NEEA and its utility partners accelerate market adoption of energy-efficient homes by partnering with the EPA to offer builders the tools they need to verify and certify energy-efficient homes, and by providing regional marketing, recruitment and training support in the Northwest.

Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes offers information, tools and resources on the energy-efficient features and increased comfort of homes that are at least 15 percent more efficient than existing state building codes. NEEA is now leveraging its work through Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes and relationships with strong market partners and utility support, to explore the next phase in new construction through the Next Step Home pilot.

This pilot will be used to identify the most cost-effective methods for achieving the greatest amount of energy savings, while paving a pathway for future code adoption.


  • Next Step Homes Phase 1: Savings Validation
    The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance is leading a regional effort called Next Step Homes. The program encourages the design and construction of homes that are capable of achieving energy efficiencies significantly greater than required by current code. Energy 350 conducted a savings validation study for the 12 homes constructed in Phase I of the program. Modeling of energy consumption was completed using a widely-available tool (REM Rate), modified for Northwest conditions. This evaluation found on average these homes were 30 percent more efficient than code built homes. The evaluation also found that the modeling tool provided reliable results, but that it could benefit from targeted modifications, for example, allowing for modelers to schedule mechanical equipment individually.
    PDF, 1.42 MB
  • Thermal Break Shear Wall: A Case Study of Rigid Foam Insulation between Frame and Sheating
    As part of our work on efficient homes, NEEA developed a case study on a Thermal Break Shear, an innovative wall assembly recently used in a zero-net-energy subdivision in Washington County, Oregon. This study demonstrates the opportunity for significant energy savings in a simple, low-cost assembly that offers additional benefits such as seismic tolerance while satisfying the requirements of the structural code.
    PDF, 444.82 KB
  • Next Step Home Builder Focus Groups
    The primary goal of the Next Step Homes initiative is to identify best practices and advanced technologies that the region can adopt into building codes over the next three to four code cycles. To encourage builders to incorporate high performance features into their new projects and to accelerate adoption of advanced energy-efficient building practices and technologies, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance commissioned Curtis Research Associates to investigate the motivations and obstacles to building more energy-efficient homes. Results from focus group discussions held in Portland, Seattle and Spokane suggest that builders have different motivations to build higher than existing code standards such as differentiating themselves in the marketplace, or strong personal ethics that favor energy efficient building practices. Common challenges to building above code homes include higher costs, appraisers’ inability to assess higher value to more efficient homes, and lack of buyers’ awareness or appreciation of energy-efficient homes.
    PDF, 237.93 KB

Article Spotlight

Efficient Homes Comes to Billings

Thirteen super-energy efficient homes throughout the Northwest are incorporating the latest technologies and best building practices that increase comfort and reduce energy costs. Each home is a real-life demonstration of some of the most efficient homes available to today’s buyers and at any size, style or budget.

Watch how

NEEA Team Lead

Neil Grigsby

Initiative Manager