What is a Net Zero Building?

A Net Zero Building (NZB) is a building that generates as much power as it uses in a year. Typically NZBs use solar panels to generate the power and have some non traditional Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) used in the building to reduce the annual energy consumption of the building. When these two techniques are used most buildings can be made Net Zero.

This is what Net Zero Houses Look Like!

Yes, a Net Zero House looks almost exactly like your house!. Expensive insulation and extreme retrofit air sealing or triple glazed Ultra Uber windows are not required. Most houses can be converted to Net Zero with few changes. The only exterior difference you'll see are solar panels on the roof (not shown in this photo as the southern exposure is on a hidden roof). The primary interior difference is a heat pump which looks exactly like your central AC unit and the water heater will also need to be an electric Domestic Hot Water (DHW) heater or a Heat Pump DHW heater. Sometimes if basements are not moderately well insulated or attics are poorly insulated or the house is very drafty (think old farmhouse) we'll recommend insulation and/or air sealing upgrades.

As these changes to your house are done you also add the amount of solar power required to offset the existing annual electrical energy consumption (first) and then the the space heating and domestic hot water heating as you change those appliances at the end of their typical lives.

Typically these are the extent of Net Zero Retrofit (NZR Upgrades). We assist you with the planning for these changes.

How is it done?

  • We study your house's design and utility bills to size solar panels to offset your annual electricity load with solar panels. 

  • We calculate the size of a heat pump to replace your central AC unit (if you have one) and furnace and suggest the amount of solar panel power to offset this load. 

  • We calculate the size of an electric water heater or heat pump water heater and the amount of solar panels required to offset this load.

  • We identify if any Energy Conservation Measures like additional insulation or air sealing are a better investment than heat pump heating and recommend these upgrades.

 

See our fee webpage to discover the costs for Net Zero and/or fuel transition planning.

© 2020 by the Building Science Trust inc. Design by Ben