EarthCraft Program and Certification


The EarthCraft program was designed in 1999 by the Southface Energy Institute and the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association. The program helps builders to make sure that green building practices are used during building construction and renovation by providing a checklist that addresses issues such as waste management, indoor air quality, and energy efficiency. EarthCraft has a specific focus on the southeastern United States, so practices are geared towards optimizing comfort and efficiency as needed for the natural climate of that particular area. The EarthCraft program was named the Green Building Program of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders for both 2004 and 2008.

What is EarthCraft Certification?

EarthCraft certification is a recognition that a building has been designed to meet the climate control needs of the Southeast U.S. in a way that will save energy and resources. When constructing or renovating a building, companies must follow a checklist to adhere to high standards of durability, cost-effectiveness, and occupant comfort while reducing material waste during building in order to receive an EarthCraft certification. After completion, the building is inspected by a third party that does a diagnostic pressure test and rates the building’s energy usage before awarding certification. EarthCraft certification provides home and building owners with assurance that the home was designed to meet high standards of efficiency using green practices.

Types of EarthCraft Certifications

Altogether, roughly 30,000 units have been certified throughout the fifteen years which EarthCraft certification has been in existence. EarthCraft started out with EarthCraft House, which is geared towards improving efficiency and comfort in single family homes, duplexes, and townhouses. Over the years, the EarthCraft certification program has expanded to include certifications for several different types of projects, including:

•(2001) EarthCraft Renovation, which offers guidelines for improving existing homes
•(2004) EarthCraft Multifamily, an initial multifamily green building program in the U.S.
•(2005) EarthCraft Communities, which helps government agencies and developers build greener  communities
•(2008) EarthCraft Light Commercial for more efficient commercial buildings under 25,000 square feet
•(2014) EarthCraft Sustainable Preservation, providing guidelines for altering historic buildings to increase energy and water efficiency

Benefits of EarthCraft Certification

The different types of EarthCraft certifications work together toward achieving the main goal of creating buildings and homes that are better for the environment and beneficial to owners. On average, EarthCraft certified homes use about 30 percent less energy than homes that are not certified. This translates to an annual cost savings of roughly $480. The occupants of EarthCraft certified homes and buildings also enjoy better indoor air quality, which can improve health and well being.

Becoming EarthCraft Certified

To become EarthCraft certified builders, companies must first be Energy Star partners and members of their local Home Builders Association. Builders must then take a one-hour training course online and attend a one-day classroom training course. Following training, EarthCraft Builder candidates must pass an EarthCraft House Builder exam with a score of 80 percent or higher. After passing the exam, builders must pay a $150 annual fee and submit an EarthCraft Builder and Renovator Application. To remain EarthCraft certified, builders must participate in continuing education.

Learn more about Zehnder’s involvement in the 2013 EarthCraft Project of the Year.