Worldwide revenues from zero-energy buildings are predicted to increase to just under $1.3 trillion by 2035, according to a recent report published by Pike Research. The report also noted that the market for such buildings, including both commercial and residential real estate, currently sits at $225 million.
A zero-energy building is one that produces as much energy as it consumes, making it a net-zero energy property and eliminating energy bills for its owners. Although zero-energy homes and buildings are quite rare today, increasing concerns about energy waste have set the stage for a growing market.
Home buyers are beginning to take interest in proactively saving money on energy, and developers are taking note of the trend, too. It appears that most developers building zero-energy homes have only built a few custom properties, Other developers, though — such as KB Home and New Town Builders — have begun rolling out production-scale zero-energy model homes at prices only marginally higher than their non-zero-energy counterparts, making such the construction process more scalable and less expensive than custom plans.
Zero-energy initiatives are so popular that even the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is getting in on the action, with plans to build its first renewable energy project, to be called Fort Irwin Solar. This should be the start to massive savings for the DoD, as it spends $4 billion per year on energy for its 300,000 buildings.
Intrigued by this environmentally conscious and wallet-friendly trend, we gathered research on some of the most recent zero-energy home initiatives. The following eight housing initiatives piqued our interest — take a look and let us know about any zero-energy home projects that you’ve heard about as of late.
The E-Cube, developed at Ghent University in Belgium, aims to create an affordable zero-energy housing option.
The home is a “do-it-yourself building kit for a solar-powered house that is pre-engineered, factory-built and easily assembled without special skills,” according to the E-Cube team.
The house can be customized from its initial starter kit to suit an individual’s time, budget and taste. If you’re the type that enjoys assembling IKEA furniture, this cubical home may be a great — and fun — investment.
2. Yannell Residence
Designed by Farr Associates and built by Goldberg General Contracting, the Yannell residence is a single-family, 2,675-square-foot home located in Chicago, Illinois, and owned by Michael Yannell.
The home was completed in 2009 and cost about $1.6 million to build. It produces 40% more energy than it consumes, scoring higher than any other LEED-certified project in history.
3. UC Davis West Village
The University of California at Davis opened the largest planned zero-energy community in the United States last fall with its UC Davis West Village project.
Developed by West Village Community Partnership, LLC (a joint venture of Carmel Partners of San Francisco and Urban Villages of Denver), the $300 million first phase of the project opened up 315 apartments, a recreation center, a village square and 42,500 square feet of commercial space. The completed project will span 130 acres and house about 3,000 people in 662 apartments and 343 single-family houses.
4. The Loop Is
4. The Loop Isla Vista
Scheduled to be completed in August, the Loop is designed to use 50% less energy and water and boasts a number of eco-friendly features, including a rooftop solar array, EnergyStar appliances, dual-flush toilets, a vegetated green roof, water-efficient fixtures and LED lighting.
For the project, the development firm was awarded the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, California’s most prestigious environmental honor.
Located in Issaquah Highlands, Washington, zHome is a 10-unit housing development with the mission to “prove that homes that use zero net energy and 60% less water, emit net zero carbon emissions, have clean indoor air and use only low-toxicity materials are possible and scalable to mainstream home production.”
The development offers 800 to 1,700 square-foot townhouses, priced between $365,000 and $599,000. The homes include highly insulated walls, double-paned windows, a ground-source heat pump, efficient lighting and appliances and an energy feedback monitor, among other things.
Most interestingly, the development features a rainwater collection and pumping system, working in tandem with water-conserving toilets and efficient shower heads to save water.
6. Wyne Residence
6. Wyne Residence
British Columbia, Canada, recently welcomed its first zero-energy home with the completion of ski patroller Richard Wyne’s Whistler home.
The 2,200-square-foot, $1.2-million, three-story home features a 600-square-foot solar array, spray foam insulation made from recycled plastics and vegetable oil, fiberglass windows and fiber-cement siding to boost energy efficiency.
7. Harmony House
7. Harmony House
Harmony House is British Columbia’s second zero-energy home, but it edges out the Wyne residence as the most energy-efficient home in the province.
The 4,700-square-foot home was built with a number of recycled materials — including logging bridges, countertops and beer bottles — and features high-efficiency water tanks, solar panels and heavy insulation.
Harmony House is owned by Les and Linda Moncrieff and built by their friend, architect Chris Mattock. It was chosen as one of the winning entries in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s “Equilibrium Sustainable Housing Demonstration Initiative,” a plan to design, build and showcase the next generation of green housing.
8. Technion Cornell Campus
8. Technion Cornell Campus
Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology won a bid late last year to build a graduate science and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City.
In December, architecture firm SOM, working in conjunction with landscaping and urban design firm Field Operations, introduced its proposal for the campus, including a net-zero energy academic campus.
The campus will benefit from passive heating and cooling strategies and feature a 150,000-square-foot photovoltaic array — the largest in New York City, according to the architects.
While the campus does include housing units, the net-zero part of the plan will not include this area, as the current plan isn’t efficient enough to create enough energy for the proposed housing units and hotel.
Nevertheless, we couldn’t leave this high-profile project off the list — it’s just too shiny.
Posted by Janine E. Mooney, Editor
February 9, 2012