While researching building our house we ran across the US Green Building Council. They certify projects as to how energy efficient they are and other criteria. They take into account hundreds of factors and have developed a scoring guide to score the energy efficiency of a building. To have a LEED certified house requires a good bit of work before your project has even started. This does not mean that you should just ignore their resources. Here is the link to the pdf scoring guide. It is 140 pages long and is very detailed and includes many formulas and specifications. Don't be overwhelmed by all the technical talk just browse through all the categories and you will learn a lot about what can go into a house. You can even score your own project.
LEED Scoring Guide