Millions of homes are built each year and many are designed to last over 50 years. If we’re going to achieve even minimum climate goals we’ll need to built those homes to use much less energy and in a way that externalizes much less carbon.
Fortunately one of the hottest trends in home building is Zero Net Energy (NZE) homes. A zero energy home combines advanced design and superior building systems with energy efficiency and on-site solar panels to produce an ultra-comfortable, healthy, quiet, sustainable homes that are affordable to live in because they don’t have any power bills. Essentially NZE homes are built with excellent insulation so they use much less energy to heat and cool and then what energy they do use is generated on site, usually with solar panels. In California, USA all new residential home will be NZE homes starting in 2010.
Once we build a home to be net zero energy use we can start to look at the carbon it takes to build that structure. This is most often referred to as embodied energy. New wooden skyscrapers and straw bale homes are examples of structures with lower embodied energy.