Tag Archives: Zero Energy Homes

Zero Net Energy Home — A Look into Future Homes?

The future could be here, with the first ever zero net energy home which opened last Tuesday, Oct. 26 in Penn., in the Ohio Township area, for builders and real estate professionals to tour.

The builder, S & A Homes based out of Penn. and West Va., along with IBACOS, the Department of Energy, and other home builders were ecstatic to introduce what could become standard for homes as technology progresses.

This zero net energy home will be a continuous research project for S & A Homes and especially IBACOS, of Pittsburgh,  Penn., a think-tank leading builders in quality and energy efficiency. The project goal is to see how the average family can conserve energy living in a home that is made for energy efficiency entirely.

The only home of its kind so far, pricing and design options haven’t been discussed at length yet, because the home’s still being carefully analyzed for effectiveness, and judged on how its design will fit into the home market in general.

Innovative new technologies and designs have been worked into every aspect of the zero net energy home, with “green” features like:

  • A looping horizontal heat pump system, a few feet beneath the home, using geothermal energy (the home is additionally installed with a traditional well system also, to compare the efficiency of each)
  • R-40 insulation, installed within 2×8 exterior walls with staggered 2×4 construction, to keep more heat inside in the cold months, and outside in the hot months
  • All LED and CFL lighting, on image sensors to minimize electricity usage

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony this month, a lucky family of four will move into the model home, for analysis of their energy usage and home habits. Over the next two years, IBACOS will be able to see how things are used, how energy efficient the home can be, and what works best or needs to be improved with the design of the home.

This way when zero net energy homes become more common, they can determine cost compared to value of these homes, to make them as affordable and  beneficial as possible. To see more information about the first zero net energy home, visit the S & A Homes website.

The Design Process

Making the most of a site's solar potential is step one in the design process, coming even before any aesthetic sketches are developed. Orienting a building toward the sun, specifying the size and type of windows, and balancing light and thermal mass are all elements of passive solar design. Unlike solar hot-water systems or photovoltaic panels, which are active or mechanically controlled solar components, passive solar design relies on nothing more than good planning and design to help make the building more energy self-sufficient.

From David Johnston's Green Diary

One of David's first projects for a production builder was to take a model the company had built hundreds of times and "green it." I was stuck with the floor plan — that couldn't be changed — but not the way the house was oriented. One wall of the house was mostly glass, and this typically faced west to make the most of mountain views.

The first thing I did was to rotate my project house 90 degrees so the glass wall could do a better job of capturing sunlight. Along with modifying the standard type of window glass the builder was using and extending roof overhangs, this simple change reduced the heating and cooling load by 40%. As a result, we started with a building that was 25% more energy efficient than government Energy Star standards.

Even in winter, rooms with south-facing windows can be warm and comfortable. The key is balancing window area to relative mass of floors and walls illuminated by sunlight.

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Originally Posted At: Green Building - Building the Future with Intention | Read Original Post