Modern Net Zero
In the quest to consume zero fossil fuels, the homeowners wanted to build a home which would generate enough energy to sustain the home’s power needs, including charging their three electric Tesla vehicles.
A net zero home is one that creates as much or more energy than it consumes. The energy is created by solar power. This home has south-facing roof pitches are covered with solar panels to capture the sunlight’s energy. The house was designed with two roof pitches to capture as much energy as possible. In addition to powering the needs of the home, there are a number of government incentives/rebates for using solar power. Additionally, the homeowners are partnering with the local energy company to purchase excess energy that the home produces. On cloudy days, the home purchases energy back from the energy company. It also utilizes geo-thermal heating, which is a way to use underground heat to regulate the indoor temperature.
The home was primarily constructed of locally sourced materials and recycled products. It has minimal VOCs, and even furnishings and decor selections had zero VOCs. Construction produces quiet a bit of waste, and the majority of construction materials on this project were recycled.
The extensive landscaping is composed of rain gardens, native grasses, and drought-resistant plants. All of the landscaping and the lawn is self-sustaining. The lawn is irrigated by rain barrels. An example of a sustainable detail includes the front porch, which has a sunken doormat with drains into the rain garden to catch excess water. The homeowners are partnering with the local watershed district to get ‘curb cuts’, which guide stormwater runoff from the street into their rain gardens.
The energy-efficient walls are thicker than normal. One of the design details includes a recessed metal reveal around all doors and windows. The lack of casing creates a sleek and refined look around the openings, and minimizes the appearance of the thicker walls.
In order to keep the home as energy efficient as possible, it was important to be thoughtful about the size of the home. Storage space is emphasized throughout the home using built-in shelving and cabinetry composed of recycled wood sourced from the midwest. The insulated attic is an important source of energy efficiency. There are no recessed lights in the ceiling, because of potential air leaks to the attic. All recessed lights are in dropped soffits.
This home embodies a self-sustaining lifestyle, and is a meaningful example of the possibilities of sustainable living. The goal of this project was to develop a home of the highest sustainability standards and to do it beautifully.
The garage has three Tesla Superchargers to power the homeowners’ vehicles.
Photography: Corey Gaffer Photography