Northfield’s sustainable housing community achieves Zero Energy Ready with New Homes team's help

May 11, 2023
sustainable Northfield community

In 2020, Center for Energy and Environment’s New Homes team began work on Hillcrest Village, an affordable and sustainable housing community in Northfield, Minnesota. Hillcrest Village is a first-in-the-nation net zero energy housing community that offers a combination of emergency housing, transitional housing, and workforce housing. The goal of this community is to offer sustainable and accessible solutions to homelessness in the Northfield Community.

Energy Recommendations

This housing community is an all-electric building that consists of 17 units. When the New Homes team joined this project in November 2020, they began by reviewing the building plans and energy models from the architect. Once the plans were thoroughly analyzed, the team made recommendations to incorporate ENERGY STAR Indoor airPLUS and DOE Zero Energy Ready standards into the building plans. These recommendations included revising the insulation levels, adding air sealing, and improving the ventilation and mechanical systems. By reviewing the building plans early in the project, the construction team was able to incorporate all the New Homes team recommendations.


Once construction was complete, the New Homes team returned to the housing community to inspect and test each unit for quality insulation and air sealing per Zero Energy Ready requirements. The testing phase of this project included blower door tests, duct leakage tests, and performance tests on exhaust and ventilation systems. This is a crucial step in the process because if any units did not meet the certification requirements, the construction team could make necessary corrections and retest the unit before the building was complete. Performing a close inspection helps ensure the building will receive the desired energy certifications and that the units will be as efficient as possible for future tenants.


Once all units met Zero Energy Ready standards, the energy models were updated, and the results were submitted to a third-party quality assurance provider for final certification. The team successfully helped this project achieve certifications for U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Homes, U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency Indoor airPLUS, and ENERGY STAR, as well as over $250,000 in Xcel Energy rebates. The building received an overall average HERS score of 33 and each unit is predicted to receive an average annual savings of $1,387.


Related Links

Case Study: Northfield Hillcrest Village Housing Project