More homes may soon be energy-free. Homes and commercial buildings consume 40 percent of all energy used in the U.S., but the growth of net-zero homes could drastically curtail that. The Zero Energy Ready Homes—those that make the energy they use—are becoming more of a reality.
In 2017, 8,547 units of net-zero housing or zero-already housing had been built in the U.S. About 38,863 were under construction, according to the Net-Zero Energy Coalition.
The growth of net-zero is expected to get a big boost when California’s new law takes effect in 2020, which will require all new homes to be net-zero. (Commercial buildings must meet that deadline by 2030.) The European Union must meet that same goal by 2020 for all new buildings in Europe.
New technologies have reduced in price over the past decade, which has helped to make net-zero homes more possible.
“Costs are changing quickly,” Alisa Petersen, a senior associate at Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy and environmental think tank, toldThe Wall Street Journal. “You don’t have to throw every efficiency measures at a home to make it net-zero.”
Net-zero homes are sealed tightly against drafts and are well-insulated to prevent heat leaks through the walls, windows, and doors. An energy recovery system helps prevent stale air, humidity, and mold issues. Solar panels are a big part of net-zero homes, too. The interiors of net-zero homes tend to be quieter and freer of pollution than conventional structures.
Net-zero homes provide luxury and energy efficiency, says Sam Bargetz, co-founder of the architecture firm Loadingdock5 based in Brooklyn, N.Y. “It’s much quieter than a regular building, and it’s dust-free,” Bargetz says.