When their children went off to college, Professor Ty Newell and his wife Deb were faced with the so-called empty nesters problem of finding themselves living alone in a house too big for them. Instead of just buying a smaller home, the couple decided to build Equinox House, a net-zero home located in Illinois. The house was designed and constructed by Ty and his son Ben in 2010.
The non-profit organization Habitat For Humanity has built another super-efficient house, which has received the highest LEED rating, LEED Platinum for homes. The 1,340 square foot, 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom, 1.5-story single family home, called the Westford House, is located in Westford, Massachusetts. The house has an estimated savings of roughly 40% over a similar more traditional home, which come to an estimated $1295 per year. The additional initial investment for making this home so efficient was $10,000.
Architect Virge Temme of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin recently received the LEED Platinum for Homes certification for a private residence she designed near Gills Rock. The home was built by Bay Lakes Builders, and the plans were based on the collaboration of all members of the construction and design team so as to ensure proper integration of all systems. The electric and fuel bills for this 2,600-square-foot house were less than $30 per month on average during its first year. This is only the seventh home in Wisconsin to receive the LEED Platinum certification.
Last week, the Zero Net Energy (ZNE) house was unveiled in Clovis, California. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home has a living area of 2,064 square-feet and was built as a join effort between BIRAenergy Consulting and De Young Properties. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) offered technical assistance to the builders in trying to find ways of getting the home to use only one-third of the energy needed for a house built to minimum code. ZNE House was built to become a model for future net zero homes in the area.
The house features numerous energy-efficiency improvements, which are in accordance with California’s Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan. This plan stipulates that all new residential construction in California will be net-zero by the year 2020. The house will not be made available for purchase yet, as it will serve as a prototype to study how well it functions and what improvements have yet to be made.
Team Middlebury is one of the twenty teams chosen to compete in this year’s US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition and their entry is the design and building of a socially and environmentally sustainable house called the InSite house. The team is made up of more than 100 Middlebury College undergraduate students from over 25 different academic disciplines. The finished two bedroom and one bathroom house will measure 956 square feet, while the building costs are $250,000.
The first team from the Czech Republic to enter the Solar Decathlon is Team CTU, made up of 26 students who set their sights on designing and building a prototype for future housing while raising awareness of solar energy, energy efficiency, and Czech architecture and engineering.
Their submission in the Solar Decathlon 2013, for which judging takes place in October 2013 in Irvine, California, is AIR House, which stands for Affordable – Innovative – Recyclable. Utilizing energy effective materials and technologies, AIR House provides a comfortable environment for older generations that appeals to the senses and respects the environment.