I could not be more excited to share this project!
In 2014 we started a partnership with Live Solar Maine to bring Net-Zero to the market in a really clever and creative way. Here’s a little bit more about this project. Stayed tuned for updates on performance and more photos once we get the project photographed!
Context: Live Solar Maine wants to bring Net-Zero to the everyday homeowner. This home was built on a piece of property that was inhumanely harvested. In order to give back to the land and provide something really meaningful, we created Net-Zero 1. Net-Zero 1 is a classic farmhouse with a modern twist. Maine has some really classic design styles and we wanted to stay true to some classic features while keeping it simple, modern, up to date, and cost effective!
Conclusion: This project is small at just under 1800SF, but it feels big and spacious! The south sun pours in the windows in the winter and is shaded by your classic front porch in the summer. The walls are 9.25″ thick giving that old deep farmhouse window sill feeling and they are low the the ground so you feel like you are a part of the outdoors from the inside.
Energy Efficiency: Net-Zero means that at the end of the year you produced more energy then you used. In this house it works in a number of different ways. First, the building envelop is tight and super insulated and the house is oriented for optimal solar exposure. This is the hardest thing to go back and fix after the fact, so we feel that this should be done right from the beginning. It’s not passive house, and has a blower door number around 1.5 ACH. We think that between 1-2 ACH is a really comfortable number where passive mechanical ventilation really provides more then enough fresh air to get rid of excess moisture and contaminants. So air tightness is number one, followed by super insulated walls, foundations, and ceilings. And then passive ventilation. It’s so incredibly important to ventilate these super tight houses, but it’s also important that the mechanicals are simple and easy to use. We love a passive air intake coupled with Panasonic Whisper Green fans in each bathroom. Simple, easy, and effective. Then we have heat-pumps that run the space, absolutely not fossil fuels, and PV to cover the electrical usage. This model house is even equipped to install a car charger when or if the homeowner is ready to take advantage of the electric car revolution.
Now, I say we call this house Net-Zero 1 because it truly has the potential to be net positive. However, every house is completely dependent on the occupants. We can control the performance of the structure, but it comes down to how every individual lives as to whether or not net-zero is achievable!
Until next time – stay tuned for more on Live Solar Maine and breaking ground on the next house in 2017!