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The Coolest, Interactive Net-Zero Home Guide Makes Green Fun

A zero-energy building, also known as a zero net energy building, net-zero energy building, or net zero building, is a building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

Some, like the zeroHouse can be used in both commercial and residential applications. The net-zero footprint makes the units particularly appealing for undeveloped land areas, or even as living office modules for remote employment and relief activities. The booming Williston, North Dakota mining industry and corresponding housing crisis comes to mind.

Zero-energy homes like this one for sale in Bend, Oregon, are designed to produce enough energy in summer to offset consumption in winter. The building’s green elements include solar power, hot water, an energy-efficient ductless heat pump, and low and zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds) finishes.

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Net Zero Certification

In fact, net zero products are in such high demand, a series of criteria and certification have evolved around the industry. The Net Zero Energy Building Certification is a program operated by the International Living Future Institute that uses the structure of the Living Building Challenge to qualify buildings.  Certification has its perks, too:

  1. Verifies the building is truly operating as claimed, harnessing energy from the sun, wind or earth to exceed net annual demand. It’s one thing to say a building is zero energy; it’s another thing to prove it.
  2. Provides a platform for the building to inform other efforts throughout the world and accelerate the implementation of restorative principles.
  3. Celebrates a significant accomplishment and differentiates those responsible for the building’s success in this quickly evolving market.

Net Zero Home Infographic

Vivint, a smart home technology leader, has created an interactive infographic on how to create a net-zero home (a home that produces as much energy as it consumes). Whether it’s upgrading to a smart thermostat, planting vegetation in the right area or installing solar panels, the company points out, there are always ways to conserve energy in your home:

  • Getting a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats can save up to 30 percent more energy by simply identifying patterns within the home and shutting off heating, ventilation and cooling systems when the house is empty or residents are asleep.
  • Planting trees in specific areas around the home. You can plant deciduous species on the south and west sides of your home to get cooling savings up to 20 percent and heating savings between eight and 18 percent.
  • Installing solar panels. A 5kW solar system that runs for 6 to 7 hours per day is enough to power the average home.

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(click for infographic)

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