Prepping for the Zero Energy Home Future

Check out these resources to stay educated as the march toward net zero houses quickens.

While only two U.S. states currently have a mandated goal of zero net energy (ZNE) home construction after 2020, Oregon and California, it’s becoming increasingly clear that ZNE homes will be much more prevalent in the not-too-distant future as states and municipalities look for ways to reduce carbon emissions and ultimately mitigate the impact of climate change. In fact, 280 U.S. cities and counties, 10 states and 2,717 signatories have committed to support climate action with the We are Still In agreement, which aims to reduce climate impact by among other things, lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Since buildings consume 70 percent of our electricity load and account for roughly 40 percent of our carbon dioxide emissions[1] in the U.S., they represent a sizeable target for energy use reduction. As more states and municipalities begin to mandate ZNE construction, builders must prepare for it. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of free information out there for builders so that they adapt to the more robust building practices required for these high-performance, super energy-efficient homes. Here are three resources to get you started.

Three Resources

  1. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE)  – DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home website is a wealth of information for learning about zero energy home construction and includes a page of resources for builders on constructing these homes of the future. Check out the full presentation slides from last month’s training webinar, presented by DOE Building Technologies Office Chief Architect Sam Rashkin and Jamie Lyons, P.E., Technical Director for the DOE ZERH.
  2. Zero Energy Project – The Zero Energy Project is a non-profit organization committed to helping home buyers, builders, designers, and real estate professionals take meaningful steps toward reducing carbon emissions and energy bills by building ZNE homes. The website includes helpful information for home builders and designers, including case studies, 12-steps to ZNE home construction guide and more.
  3. American Institute of Architects (AIA) California Council Zero Net Energy Primer – Architects play an integral role in helping builders deliver ZNE homes. The AIA’s California Council (AIACC) recently released a primer that includes essential information to assist architects in their role of meeting California’s ZNE goals. The primer includes information on design principles, roof and wall assemblies, heating and cooling recommendations, and other guidance especially useful to architects who work with builders in designing ZNE homes.

Builders should leverage these valuable resources ahead of any new mandates by states and municipalities to construct ZNE homes.

[1] Source: Environmental and Energy Study Institute https://www.eesi.org/files/climate.pdf

Stacy Fitzgerald-Redd is the Director of Communications for North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA).