In many ways the certification is more rigorous than LEED certification, which is an accumulation of points earned for things like the selection of materials, the performance of the home, water conservation fixtures, the efficiency of the building shell, low-VOC paint, careful planning of the strategic structure and more.
Solar photovoltaic panels also help offset electricity costs. The house isn’t net zero, but it's close. A common misconception is that solar photovoltaic panels directly power the house and the electronics inside. The sun shines and the computer works etc. A more common installation works more like a credit system. The power generated goes to offset your bill as an energy credit. With grid-tied systems like this, you don’t make money producing energy; rollover credits go into your account and accumulate on an annual basis. (Off-the-grid, stand-alone solar electric systems require large batteries to store the sun’s energy when the sun is not shining. Batteries need to be replaced, they’re large, and they have a limited number of life cycles of charge and discharge.)