For those who are interested in building Net Zero it is important to understand a fundamental equation that will help to assure success. That is . . .
Optimizing Passive Design features + Energy Star Appliances and Equipment + LED lighting and daylighting + Energy Efficient HVAC and water heating + a modest solar array (5kW -10kW) = NET ZERO!
This may be an oversimplification, but it is a good starting point for a building design plan of action. Passive features include: proper building orientation; building materials; insulation type and thickness; window location, size, and type; roofing material; etc.
Net Zero doesn’t happen by accident, but takes considerable planning. Special care should be taken in selecting your architect and contractor, to be sure that they are experienced in Net Zero design and construction, and are current in this rapidly evolving sustainable market. If you have decided to NOT build Net Zero, then I encourage you to build as close to Net Zero as possible, with the ability to easily upgrade in the near future. The time is quickly approaching where building Net Zero will no longer be considered an option. Net Zero gives you more control over increasing utility rates, meaning money back in your pocket. We are not that far away from federal incentives turning into fees and penalties for not being energy efficient. When this occurs we will be paying for the high price of energy PLUS additional fees for not being energy compliant. Taking that into consideration makes the move to Net Zero much more cost effective! The federal incentives expire at the end of 2016. What will happen after that is anyone’s guess.
Is it really worth the gamble to not build Net Zero?