While trends come and go, hopefully the zero-energy mindset is here to stay. A zero-energy home is a space that relies on exceptional energy conservation and on-site renewable energy to meet heating, cooling and energy needs. As the movement continues to gain traction around the country, here is a closer look at what it really means to own a “zero-energy home”.
First, let’s start with the basics. Zero-energy projects are the most concentrated on the East and West coasts. These innovative projects are able to thrive is specific states and regions due to local policies mandates and codes. But, as cities throughout the country continue to adopt zero-energy policies and solar costs continue to fall, this is headed for a big change in the coming years.
California plans to build all new residential buildings to zero net energy specifications by 2020! Taking green home construction to a new level, these high-performance homes will produce the same amount of energy that they consume by incorporating a photovoltaic system. In case you didn’t catch that, a photovoltaic system is a linked collection of solar panels. With the majority of these homes still connected to the grid, any excess energy that’s accumulated is fed back into the grid so it can be used at night or when it’s cloudy.
Also, with zero-energy, zero carbon emission homes the only “energy” bill you pay is the monthly fee required to connect to the grid. While the zero-energy homes look like any other from the outside, their exterior walls tend to be thicker than traditional homes. They also incorporate heating and cooling systems that are much better and more effective than typical systems.
To get a sense of where we stand, a recent report from the Net-Zero Energy Coalition identified 6,200 housing units in the US and Canada as zero-energy ready. This means that each home can supply at least 90 percent of its annual energy demand. Nine percent of the total residential units n NZEC’s report are classified as zero-energy (supplying 100 percent or more of the home’s annual energy). Net producers, capable of supplying 110 percent or more of a home’s energy demand, make up just four percent of the units.
As with any trend, all we can do is wait and see where it goes. But for zero-energy homes, the future is looking bright.
Take a look at some of the new construction going on around Boston right now.