Sunday, October 26, 2008

Zero Energy Communities and Net Zero Homes

Are homeowners across the U.S. interested in living in Net Zero Homes or Zero Energy homes as they are called elsewhere and or building them?

I am curious how much market demand there is right now in my Northeast / New England Region and other regions of the country for Net Zero homes. I am also interested in how much interest there is in other cold climate areas around the world. Please send me any examples of projects whether a single building or community.

A little background....A Net Zero or Zero Energy home means a dwelling which produces equal or more energy then they consume through use of active renewable energy systems (solar panels, geothermal, wind) versus passive systems (passive solar etc.) They can also be in combination with one another in small communities or even large cities. It's something businesses and institutions can do too! One very valuable offshoot of doing zero energy buildings is they by their very nature help provide economic security and predictability given the reduced impact of rising energy costs or fossil fuel future scarcity.

These homes are usally very energy efficient as a starting point but can stylistically vary widely. Please let me know what you're finding in your marketplace? Or what questions you have. I'd like to grow my network of people talking about this. I am new to this conversation. I am actually curious if this term can be morphed to become "Energy producing communitities" or "surplus energy homes" as the highest and best possibility is making buildings which can make more than they use and offer more options for locally generated power and thus more stability.

Best, Steve


Bob Schecter said...

On 10/20/08 10:02 PM, Bob Schecter wrote:
Net Zero is Green on steroids.

As soon as generating sufficient renewable resources becomes practical both physically and financially, it will be marketed and implemented more. Luckily, the timing couldn't be better for the industry. No doubt people are rethinking their homestead practices and will start staying in homes longer. That will mean a longer term vision of what the bottom line will be. With that, lenders will react and offer "sustainable loans". But much like the Green wave, the economic environment needs to brighten before our environment can be saved.

Carl Seville said...

In most of the US, unfortunately, power is too cheap to make it financially viable for people to seek out net zero energy homes. Combine that with the current real estate meltdown, and it will be only more challenging for homeowner to afford what it takes to accomplish zero energy. What it will take is for us to realize that we can live in much less space that we are used to, start designing building to minimize energy use from the very beginning, and a combination of incentives and increased production to bring down the cost of renewable energy that we need to offset our energy usage.

Stephen Frey | AIA, LEED AP said...

Carl, Thanks for your response. Your question about what will it take for the US to wake up is timely. Frankly I don't know what it will take other than to start talking more about it, getting our and finding ways to obtain incentives in local communities, state and federal governments. Above all it's worth trying. I think with the issues of economic insecurity and the tension it creates it's an important time to speak out and offer a more secure, predictable future based more on renewables and biofuels and communities pulling together.