A Mass Market Net-Zero Home May Be On The Way

March 28, 2016

Many products, whatever they may be, tend to follow a similar trajectory. They begin as specialty items and, over time, grow into mass produced items that can be picked up just about anywhere. Take the cronut, for example. A combination of a croissant and a donut that was invented by a New York City chef had people lining up out the bakery’s doors just to get a taste of the delectable treat.

Since the cronut was so exclusive, it spawned its own black market of people who bought them for about $5 and resold them for up to $100 (that might constitute the use of the phrase “Only in America”). But that was back in 2013. Not even three full years later, anyone can head to Dunkin Donuts and get their own cronut for a few bucks, no black market meet up necessary.

Zero net energy (ZNE) homes are looking to take a similar path as the cronut as PulteGroup has created a prototype of a ZNE in Northern California that may one day be mass-produced.

The prototype uses advanced design, construction, and on-site renewable energy solutions in an effort to produce as much energy as it consumes, Proudgreenhome.com reports. Almost completely airtight building methods, highly efficient insulation, HVAC, and lighting technologies are combined with on-site solar energy production in an effort to offset the home’s energy consumption.

Expected to be completed in May 2016 by Pulte Homes, the home will have its energy performance monitored for a year after it is sold so its overall efficiency can be evaluated and analyzed.

From the overall floor plans to small details like including a tankless hot water heater, low VOC paint and tile, solar panels, and low-e windows, the prototype has been designed from the ground up to be as energy-efficient as possible. Because the house has been so effectively designed, it allows for more power production from a single solar panel, meaning the solar power system will not have to take up as much roof space as usual while still providing all the energy the home requires.

The project is based on Pulte’s participation in Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Zero Net Energy Production Builder Demonstration program that supports California’s efforts to see all new residential construction be zero net energy by 2020.

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