How To Build A Home With Net Zero Energy Efficiency In Mind

How To Build A Home With Net Zero Energy Efficiency In Mind

If you want to build a home that saves you as much money as possible, you should aim for net zero energy efficiency. Net zero energy efficiency means that your home produces as much energy as it uses up, resulting in a balanced energy system. Renewable energy solutions are the only way to achieve this, but they have to be combined with other energy-efficient items like insulation and specialized building materials to maximize your energy efficiency. In case you want to create a net zero, energy-efficient home, here’s how you can do exactly that.

you won’t get to net zero unless you’re creating as much as you’re using.

1. Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is key to achieving a net zero home. Even with the lowest energy usage possible, you won’t get to net zero unless you’re creating as much as you’re using. This is where solar panels and even other forms of renewable energy like wind or water can come in handy. The easiest way to do it is with solar panels, though. Simply have a few solar panel shingles or full-blown panels installed on your roof and you’re good to go. Remember, if you’re maximizing energy efficiency through other means, you might not need as many solar panels as you think. 

2. ICF Construction

ICF construction is the number one way to maximize energy efficiency. By having your foundation and wall system built with insulated concrete forms and having a building wrap added on top of that, you can eliminate the need for multiple different air and vapor barriers. This is because ICF construction is naturally insulated and free of thermal bridging caused by wooden studs. As it is the single most energy-efficient material you could use to build your home, the benefits of ICF are not to be understated. 

3. HVAC Improvements

Improving your HVAC system is key to achieving net-zero energy efficiency. You should fix any leaks in your ductwork, change the air filters, and have some louvers as well as an air barrier such as a building wrap. Air and vapor barriers can come in handy when you’re dealing with windy rainstorms and similar extreme weather conditions. A good louver design should easily block debris and rain from entering your home while still allowing the passage of air. 

4. Low Energy Appliances

Another way to lower your energy usage overall is by installing some low flow faucets and other low energy appliances that don’t allow you to waste energy. Low flow shower heads and LED light bulbs are just two examples. Dimmer switches can also work well here. 

Getting to Net Zero Energy Efficiency Isn’t as Hard as You Might Think

While it might sound prestigious and intimidating, net zero energy efficiency is pretty simple to achieve. Just install a few solar panels or even a wind turbine on your property, and use other methods for saving energy. Louvers, air and vapor barriers, ICF construction, and low energy appliances all used in combination will go a long way towards lowering your energy usage. The renewable energy from your solar panels or similar installations will take you the rest of the way, resulting in successful net zero energy efficiency. 

The cantilevered and stepped massing plays into the building’s sustainability benefits, as it forms balconies and green roofs that allow occupants fresh air and stunning views of the city. The building’s interior design plays a sustainability role as well, with “irresistible staircases” that offer unique terraces in the atrium and breathtaking views of the city. The goal: invite people to walk up the stairs rather than take the elevator, promoting physical health and energy reductions. One of the largest components of the building’s sustainable construction are the geothermal bores, a system that is essential for BU’s Climate Action Plan goal of net zero emissions by 2040. BU’s goals also put the university ahead of Carbon Free Boston, the city’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050. Suffolk’s team drilled and installed a total of 31 bores, each 1,500 feet deep, which will harness the thermal capacity of the earth for heating and cooling and eliminate the need to connect the building to a gas line.


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