Resources Net Zero Energy Homes

Zero Net Energy Homes

What is a Zero Net Energy Building?

A zero net energy building is one that is optimally efficient and, over the course of a year, generates energy onsite, using clean renewable resources, in a quantity equal to or greater than the total amount of energy consumed onsite.

Getting to Zero in Massachusetts

To create ultra-efficient residential and commercial buildings, designers and builders utilize integrated design and building techniques. They also determine which energy efficiency strategies and technologies, and what type of renewable on-site generation, will contribute to superior energy performance to meet the needs of the buildings. These elements will create a comfortable, healthy home or workplace; decrease energy costs; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- all characteristics that make zero net energy buildings desirable and rewarding.

Case studies (click for link), featuring zero and near zero net energy buildings, newly built or retrofitted, have been designed to inform and inspire you to consider what’s possible. Indeed, innovative designers, builders, and homeowners are transforming the way we build in Massachusetts, demonstrating much needed solutions to reduce energy waste.

For many homeowners, deep energy retrofits in the current market are cost-prohibitive. However, increased incentives and financing mechanisms, rising fuel costs, and a growing demand for “green” housing, are expected to facilitate the affordability and widespread implementation of deep energy retrofits. Building experts estimate that as the market grows, material and labor costs will decrease from 25 to 50 percent. Furthermore, with existing government and utility incentives (tax credits and rebates), incremental approaches to super-insulation are accessible to many homeowners as these projects are most cost-effective when a building undergoes a major renovation such as a new roof, new siding, or window replacement.

Benefits of Deep Energy Retrofits:

• Reduces greenhouse gas emissions

• Energy cost savings

• Increases long term affordability

• Maintains embodied energy and cultural value

• Improves durability, indoor air quality, comfort, health and safety

• Increases the impact of investment in renewables

• Builds local economies

• Creates good jobs that cannot be out-sourced

• Stimulates product development

• Builds energy independence for the United States

Adapted from: Moving Existing Homes Toward Carbon Neutrality ACI July 2007 Summit White Paper.