Save Energy to Make Jobs

If you wanted to be called a business genius, you would look to future for the “next big thing,” right? Here’s a hot tip: renewable energy and energy efficiency are the job creators of the future.

Zero Energy Upgrades Could Cost Zero Dollars

There’s a way to pay for the entire cost of the upgrades needed to take a home all the way to zero energy. Find out how and use our handy cost calculator to estimate the price of your own project.

How to Sell High-Efficient Homes of the Future

Have you ever tried to explain what makes a zero energy building better? It’s harder than it seems to explain a sometimes complicated theory in a clear and compelling way. Sam Raskin, Chief Architect at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office, shares how we can improve zero energy home marketing.

Why Build Zero Energy Homes?

Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office, outlines the case for building and designing zero energy and zero energy ready homes.

Cities Leading the Way to Zero Energy

Cities, large and small, are taking the lead in reducing carbon emissions and moving rapidly to adopt zero energy policies. 2030 is the target year for many of these urban zero energy initiatives. Now is the time for building professionals to develop the skills they will need to take advantage of this growing trend.

Hot Water from the Sun for the 21st-Century

Remember the days of the trusty solar thermal water heater? For single-family homes, there is a newer and cheaper technology – one that even a solar purist can embrace.

Renewable Energy Reaches the Tipping Point

Low-carbon fuels will drive the global economy no matter what happens with Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Renewable energy has become cheaper than fossil fuels in many circumstances, even without accounting for climate change and other externalities. And more states are buying in as a result.

Disrupting the Energy Industry with the Energy Technology Trifecta

Cheap solar electricity, on-site energy storage and electric vehicles will reshape the 21st century economy. Will today’s electric utilities position themselves wisely in this technology triangle? Or will they miss a golden opportunity?

The Buying Power of Efficiency

Energy efficiency pays for itself. If you design well, build smart and finance correctly, energy savings will take you all the way to a zero energy home.

Housing Developers Thinking Big about Zero Energy

Whole neighborhoods of zero energy homes are springing up around the country as consumers embrace the trend. Several national homebuilders have joined a growing number of smaller production builders to make zero energy homes the norm.

How Builders Can Best Sell their Highly Energy-Efficient Homes

High-performance homes have many cool features that are not always obvious to buyers. As a builder, you want the effort and expense you’ve invested in the home to be effectively represented to potential buyers. That means engaging real estate brokers and appraisers who have the training, knowledge and experience to recognize these features and communicate the benefits effectively.

Ice Dams Reveal Heat Loss Issues

It’s the time of year when houses reveal a dirty little secret. They show a key thermal weakness by growing long icicles attached to damaging ice dams. Get better energy performance and prevent ice dams with these simple construction practices.

Three Ways Energy Ratings Support Efficiency

Home energy ratings are gaining acceptance, because they benefit consumers and housing industry professionals alike. Ratings support the value of efficient homes in the market, give builders a tool to optimize their designs, and support energy improvement financing.

Zero Energy Gains Traction in Commercial Buildings

There’s a misconception that saving energy is bad for business. To the contrary, there is a strong business case for high-performance buildings, as illustrated by this small sample of recently completed zero energy buildings.

Schools Should Buy Books not Energy

Energy purchases are the second largest line item in most school budgets. That’s like throwing money away. Schools that have embraced high-performance improvements \save money and improve learning outcomes. Financing is the key to their success.

Place Ducts Inside the Building Envelope

Most buildings that use forced-air heating and cooling run the ducts outside the building’s thermal envelope. That’s crazy! Save energy, save money and improve performance by designing and building with ducts inside. Here’s how.

What Home Buyers Should Look For (and avoid) in High Performance Homes

Marketing terms can be confusing for those looking to buy a home. Beware of exaggeration. Look for third-party certifications. Partner with a real estate broker that understands what’s under the hood of a high-performance home.

Zero Energy Activism in a Time of Climate Change Denial

Uncertainty looms ahead for the zero energy movement. Don’t get discouraged. Get active! We’ve got 7 close-to-home actions you can take now to propel the movement forward.

“Leap” into Large-Scale Zero Energy Retrofits

A zero energy home doesn’t have to be new construction. Zero energy principles can be applied to existing buildings, too. By applying the scale and efficiency of industrial methods to housing, housing agencies in Europe are taking energy retrofits in giant leaps.

Radiant Temperature is Key to Comfort

Better comfort sets zero energy homes apart from conventional ones. Add the concept of radiant temperatures to your sales pitch.

PACE Loans Hurdle the “First Cost Barrier” to Zero Energy Homes

Long-term, low-cost financing means that owners and renters will see immediate financial benefits from energy efficiency improvements. Property-Assessed Clean Energy programs are sprouting up around the U.S. to address the need. Maybe your area has such a program.

Don’t Market a Zero Energy Home Without Knowing This

Consumers say they want to buy high-performance buildings, choosing these words will help make the sale.

On-site Storage is the Great Equalizer

Batteries for homes and businesses enhance the effectiveness of grid-connected buildings. Solar owners, electric utilities and rate payers all benefit from this new level of grid integration.

Solar Prices Keep Dropping

The cost of solar electric systems has plunged by 5 to 8% in just the last year, making zero energy homes financially feasible for more middle-income homeowners. This is a great time for you to encourage homebuyers to include solar in the homes you are building for them. This trend will help you make the case for solar to your customers.

Induction Cooks Better than Gas

Think about an idea that many professional chefs have already discovered. Electric induction cooktops are faster, more responsive and, yes, more efficient. This technology could replace gas as the cooking fuel of choice in the next home you build. Value added energy saving technologies like this will help your homes stand out from the rest.

Football Goes Green… and It’s Not Turf

Sports arenas around the world are joining the zero energy wave. Your next game could be carbon-neutral. If football stadia can become zero energy, shouldn’t the homes we build be zero energy too?

Building Integration Saves Cost, Looks Great

Solar panels don’t need to be an afterthought. They can now be seamlessly integrated into a variety of building components, reducing buyer resistance to solar even further. By integrating solar into walls, as well as roofs, you’ll find that taller buildings can now reach zero energy.

Value You Can Take to the Bank

There are four reasons that energy-efficient commercial buildings are worth more. Working with appraisers to accurately document this value will help ensure the financial success and appropriate sales price for high-performance buildings. While this post refers to commercial buildings, the idea applies to homes, too.

Can The World be Petrol Free?

Although the trend is just beginning, electric vehicles will eventually replace fossil fuel burners. Why not be ahead of the curve and future proof your next zero energy home by including extra solar generating capacity to supply enough electricity for the household and for transportation. This will satisfy the top two household energy uses.

The Debate Around Net Metering Rages On

Uncertainty around net metering is hampering the growth of solar electric installations in certain parts of the country. Net metering is an arrangement that permits owners of solar electric systems to bank their excess power with the local utility company.

Defining the Thermal Boundary

Insulation and air sealing are key components of a successful zero energy building envelope.

Prefab Zero Energy Homes

Lower Cost, More Efficient, Wider Availability

Keep Your Cool as Summer Heats Up

If you live in a high performance home, you have a big advantage. The extra insulation, air sealing and high-performance windows keep the heat outside in summer, just as they keep the heat indoors in winter.

Banish “Payback”

Every conversation about zero energy homes (ZEHs) eventually comes around to the question of “cost.”

Design Strategies for Zero Energy Homes That Builders Will Thank You For

Your zero energy home design project will be smoother, less expensive and more successful, and builders will thank you, if you use  these twelve strategies in the design process and detail them on your plans.

Simple, Effective, Affordable Indoor Ventilation

How do we get variable amounts of tempered, filtered make-up air back into our houses?

High-R Walls, Part 1: Wall Assembly

Many years ago Joe Lstiburek, building science rock star, introduced his “perfect wall” concept, although this perfection extends only to energy and moisture performance. There are other elements that I consider worthy of discussion: climate impact, cost and buildability.

High-R Walls, Part 2: Moisture Content

Zero-energy homes usually require a wall system with an insulating value of R-30 to R-40, at least in cold, heating-dominated climates. In Part 1 of this series, I suggested that you can’t go wrong with rigid insulation sheathing or with double-stud walls filled with fibrous insulation.