Part 2 – Where is Green Headed?

The goal of a low or zero energy home or business is far more attainable today than it was even 10 years ago.  Photo-voltaics are better.  The digital age has brought affordable products to the market for controlling and optimizing heating and cooling systems.  There are enough off-the-shelf products available that Zero-Net Energy (ZNE) home is viable in today’s market.

The following ideas summarize some of the issues that need to be considered to move toward zero-net energy consumption:

  • Reduce the impact of the environment on buildings by knowledgeable design – utilizing overhangs and shading to save energy.  Design smaller, leaner and more efficient buildings
  • Reduce power needs through the use of better and higher quantities of insulation and more judicious use of more energy-efficient windows
  • Reduce energy demand via more efficient appliances and heating/cooling systems – use of geothermal for heating, cooling and hot water needs is one such idea
  • Take advantage of the environment through the use of passive heat gain, natural ventilation and energy harvesting via solar photo-voltaics and wind turbines
  • The use of new electronic devices that provide continuous feedback on energy consumption of all parts of the home or building – systems that can be monitored and controlled remotely via computer, tablet device or smartphone

In the U.S. progress toward ZNE has been slow compared to other parts of the world.  Some countries in Europe may implement requirements for ZNE for home building as soon as 2016 (United Kingdom).  For America, however, a slower approach may make more sense, given the depressed condition of the Building Industry.  The last thing the Building Industry needs is more regulation and mandates.

For the ZNE movement to take hold it must make economic sense without the need for government subsidies.  It may take more time, but in the end competition will provide a better result.

What does it mean to you?  If you are planning to remodel or build new, you should first educate yourself about Green Building.  Incorporate as many of the principles of green building and energy efficiency as you can afford or that make sense to you. As more Green, ZNE homes are built, advancements in technology will make tomorrow’s systems less expensive.  This will pave the road for others to follow.  And don’t forget to hire a Green Professional to guide you.

Learn more about Green Building at http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/ and http://www.nahbgreen.org/

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