More on the Net Zero House
November 21, 2013
I posted on a new development of zero energy/net positive houses in Houston, which depended on a fuel cell concept for some of its energy production. Obviously fuel cells are not the final answer, but not a bad option for many homeowners.
Above, net zero homes in Canada – which seems like a good test bed for the concept. It also illustrates the reality that homes like this may still be tied to the grid, at least with current tech. Plenty of room for innovation here.
As is so often the case, California is on the cutting edge, with Governor Jerry Brown continuing to push the envelope. Things like this tend to spread to the rest of the country. Think hot tubs.
Starting in 2014, California is implementing a tsunami of building code revisions called Title 24. These revised building codes will move California’s residential and commercial buildings toward Zero Net Energy (ZNE). In a ZNE building, the annual energy consumption is equal to its annual production of renewable energy. Under Title 24, all new residential construction is to be ZNE by 2020 with all new commercial buildings achieving this ZNE goal by 2030.
Title 24 moves building design toward “comprehensive building solutions.” This building design approach first focuses upon reducing energy consumption through the integration of smart and energy efficient technologies. The final design step after reducing the building’s energy consumption is to install onsite renewable energy generation like solar panels.
As these new codes are being analyzed by the construction and real estate industries, there is a growing realization that Title 24 will apply to existing buildings that implement threshold-sized remodeling or repurposing construction projects. In addition, California’s Governor Jerry Brown has authorized through an executive order that state agencies shall take measures towards achieving ZNE for 50 percent of the square footage of existing state-owned buildings by 2025.
In coordination with these code revisions, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) is revising the financial incentives offered through utilities to encourage energy efficiency investments by building owners. The CPUC is reducing or eliminating past financial incentives for energy efficiency investments that are now mandated by Title 24. In 2014, a new set of financial incentives are being launched that support comprehensive building solutions.
Other locations and concepts below.