Net Zero Construction
by Serese Kudar
What is net-zero construction? A home where the total amount of energy used annually is substantially equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. Sustainability goals are revolutionizing the home-building industry in unimaginable ways.
In northern communities like Jackson Hole or Big Sky, where temperatures often dip into the single digits, homeowners are finding energy-efficient homes are not only more cost-effective but more comfortable.
Fundamental techniques for net-zero energy designs include thick, well-insulated walls with tight construction and air-tight spray foam insulation between the studs to control heat loss. Your home’s orientation with ample south-facing windows are primarily engineered to heat through passive solar design.
Changes in window components are paving the way toward greater efficiency. Glass, the most essential and least energy efficient material, has dramatically improved through enhancements of LoE advanced glazing options and triple to even quadruple-pane windows.
Window manufacturing achieves net zero quantification by improving U-factor ratings and solar heat gain. It is vital to stay in the forefront through education and product alignment with manufacturers as homeowners focus and demand for housing sustainability and energy efficiency in their homes or new builds.
Building to net-zero standards using contemporary methods and materials can be expensive, hence the need for new techniques and materials, many of which haven’t been invented yet, or are in the early stages of development. As new technologies and tools come onboard and builders learn how to use them, costs will go down.
Digital modeling and all the downstream effects on the design and building has had a profound effect of waste and usage.
Not only can we optimize the design in ways that 2D drafting doesn’t allow, but we can also use the model to coordinate out-of-the-area prefabrication and material sourcing, which impacts the pricing, quality and technology of the project. Prefabrication of interior and exterior components is revolutionizing the home building industry with less environmental waste.
A shift towards “green building materials” continues to be popular with builders and homeowners alike – products that require little or no processing are available locally or recycled.
If you’re embarking on a new build or renovation, talk with your architect or builder about how to ensure your new dream home is both a beautiful and welcoming space and also reflects your desire to live more lightly on the earth.
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