Over the past year, I have been working with architect Marc Sloot of SALA architects and interior designer Lisa Peck of Lilu Interiors in preparation to build a net zero home, that is both functional and beautiful. A net zero home is one that creates as much or more energy than it consumes. This home is seeking LEED certification and Living Building Challenge Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) certification. Features include: extensive solar paneling, geo-thermal heating, rain gardens and a Tesla supercharger. We are breaking ground this summer, and it will be completed summer 2016. Here are some additional features of the home:
- Solar Power – The home is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes for the house and electric cars. There are a number of state and federal incentives for installing and using solar power, including a federal tax rebate of 30% on the installation of photovoltaic solar panels. The state of Minnesota also offers a Made in Minnesota Solar incentive,which holds an annual lottery to award funding for new residential, commercial, and community garden solar systems. Also, homeowners are planning on partnering with Xcel Energy to allow the energy company to purchase energy that the house is producing, and on cloudy days, the house purchases energy back from Xcel.
- Water Convservation – The homeowners are partnering with the Rice Creek Watershed District to get ‘curb cuts’, which essentially guide storm water off the street and into the rain gardens. Rain gardens reduce the amount of water going into the storm sewer and encourage absorption of water into the ground. They help to replenish underground water reserves and help keep our precious lakes and streams clean and healthy. Drought tolerant plants will be planted so ongoing irrigation of them is not needed. Some rain barrels are also planned for the project. Water collected in the rain barrels is intended for minimal irrigation needs of a vegetable garden.
- Locally-Source and Recycled Materials – Local manufacturing and sourcing of materials are being emphasized. Most construction waste from the construction site will be recycled.
- Geo-Thermal Heating – Geo-thermal heating is a way to use underground heat to cleanly and efficiently regulate the indoor temperature of a building.
- Educational Tool – One of the goals of the project is to help educate and inspire others to incorporate sustainable and energy efficient features into their own homes. Ongoing performance monitoring is being planned. Also students of all ages and the public will be invited to tour the house on occasion.
The home will very meaningfully integrate all of these environmentally-friendly features. The goal of the project is the develop a home with the highest sustainability standards and to do it beautifully.