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Net Zero Homes

In this month's issue, I wrote a roundtable article on net zero energy. In recent months, two net zero energy prototype homes have celebrated their grand openings.

Proud Green Home, Metal Sales, Serenbe, net-zero prototype home, metal architecture blog

In March, automobile manufacturer Honda opened its Honda Smart Home US on the West Village campus of the University of California, Davis. The home showcases technologies that enable zero net energy living and transportation, and is capable of producing more energy on-site from renewable sources than it consumes annually. This includes enough energy to power a Honda Fit EV for daily commuting.

The home energy management system, developed by Honda, along with its energy-efficient design allows the home's occupants to use less than half the energy of a similarly sized new home in the Davis area for heating, cooling and lighting. It is also three times more water efficient than a typical U.S. home.

Construction began in April 2013, and will serve as a residence for a member of the UC Davis community. The home is fully furnished and comes with a Honda Fit EV battery electric vehicle for daily transportation.

The home also functions as a living laboratory where technologies and business opportunities at the intersection of housing, transportation, energy and the environment evaluated by Honda, researchers from UC Davis and Pacific Gas and Electric. UC Davis's West Village is the largest planned zero net energy housing development in the U.S.

The project looks at two of the primary sources of CO2 emissions: cars and homes, which together, contribute approximately 44 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. One of the key potential pathways to address climate change is technology that enables distributed renewable energy generation to supply power to homes and cars seamlessly.

The second net zero energy home is located outside of Atlanta in Serenbe, a 1,000-acre community built on an urban development model that promotes private residential housing and living with a minimal impact on nature. Known as the Proud Green Home, it features metal roof and wall panels from Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp.

The home is a partnership between Metal Sales and ProudGreenHome.com, a community media site that hosts daily feature stories relevant to sustainable home building. The home features the latest residential green building technologies and products that contribute to energy efficiency, water efficiency, durability, low maintenance and net zero energy usage.

The Metal Sales roof and wall panels have Energy Star listed colors, and features solar panels and a rainwater catchment system that reduces fresh water consumption. Metal Sales supplied 2,466 square feet of 12-inch Vertical Seam metal roof panels and 1,064 square feet of 7/8-inch Corrugated wall panels, both in Dark Bronze. The 24-gauge panels are 100 percent recyclable and contain a high percentage of recycled content.

"The Metal Sales roof and wall panels integrated well with the other materials used on the home. The stunning vertical metal wall panels create symmetry and balance on the home's exterior," says Chris Laumer-Giddens of Atlanta-based LG Squared, the project architect. "I'm a big fan of metal roofs as they are low maintenance."

"Not only are metal roofs durable, they also keep the home cooler," says Luis Imery of Athens, Ga.-based The Imery Group, the project builder. "This results in better and lower cost energy management."

The home has achieved EarthCraft Platinum certification and meets Energy Star requirements.

It also uses renewable resources to generate as much energy as it consumes. The home's energy will be monitored and recorded during the first year and is expected to exceed Georgia's minimum energy code rating requirements by 55 percent.

Is your firm doing more net zero energy project lately? Do you have any in the works? What challenges are you facing in designing for net zero? Is there an aspect of net zero that you would like us to cover? Sound off below.

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