Friday, June 14, 2013

What Do You Need to Know to Build a Net-Zero Energy Home?

Strategies to Achieve Net-Zero Energy Homes: A Framework for Future Guidelines Workshop Summary Report(51 page pdf, Nancy A. McNabb, Engineering Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, April 2013)

Also discussed here: Strategies to Achieve Net-Zero Energy Homes(Science Daily, May 15, 2013)

Today we review a guide to build new homes or restructure old homes to achieve net zero energy which is defined as “buildings that generate as much energy through renewable means as is consumed by the building”. The guide is broken down to address design technology and equipment as well as the challenge of resistance to change in terms of human behavior. Such adverse side effects of more air tight houses and the impact on indoor air quality are discussed. The goal of the federal government is to realize 50% of all commercial buildings in the USA to be net zero by 2050. netzero house  

Key Quotes:

 “Key Questions:
  • What are the key characteristics of future NZE homes and the residential building community?
  • What are the challenges and barriers that impede the design, construction, and purchasing of NZE homes?
  • What are the potential concepts that could be included in a future guidance document for the residential building community to aid in the design and construction of NZE homes? “
“Some NZE concepts (e.g., tighter building envelopes) could potentially impact indoor air quality (IAQ). IAQ control technologies, such as heat recovery ventilation, novel ventilation concepts, and approaches to reducing outdoor air requirements, will support net-zero homes by ensuring that indoor environmental conditions are maintained and potentially improved.”

Risk factors include those related to the adoption of unfamiliar technology; limited ways to measure the performance and benefits of technology; a lack of integration of NZE concepts into current financing mechanisms; and cost (both initial and operating costs). Risk aversion or a reluctance to change was identified as one of the most important barriers because it translates into reluctance on the part of builders to incorporate new technologies with unfamiliar performance histories. “

Externalities that exert influence outside the domain of the home design and building industry can also create impediments. Diversity and inconsistency in energy policies at the federal, state, or local levels creates uncertainty about investment decisions that involve energy efficiency or on-site electricity generation. “

"Consumers require information that is useful, timely and understandable to be able to make the energy purchase and consumption decisions necessary to achieve net-zero energy for new and existing homes,"
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