Beautiful sunset (photo by Santa Rosa OLD SKOOL, CC 2.0 license)
This is the first post in a series on zero-net energy homes. Over the course of the series I will be covering all aspects of this topic, from the technology and knowledge available today, to the changes needed in technology, building codes, trade skills, design approaches, and will to achieve the goal of all new homes eventually being zero net energy.
The Cannon Beach house, built by Nathan Good, architect, and Rich Elstrom Construction. I saw this house first in Fine Homebuilding special edition on green housing. Fine Homebuilding, and the Taunton site in general, has a huge amount of information on green building.
House, ready to become zero net energy (Image by Panoramas, CC 2.0 licensed)
In October 2008, a number of federal government departments and research organizations collaborated to produce the Federal R&D Agenda for Net Zero Energy High Performance Green Buildings (PDF). It's a fascinating document, its origins driven primarily in response to two energy policy laws passed in 2005 and 2007 (during the Bush administration). In particular, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) created an Office of Commercial High Performance Green Buildings and a consortium on a Zero Net Energy Commercial Buildings Initiative. This consortium produced the R&D agenda.
Money ('El Altimo de los Mohicanos' - photo by wakalani, CC 2.0 licensed)
One of the biggest problems for residential solar electricity generation is that it just costs too darn much to install those panels on your roof. Over the next five and ten years this will change significantly as new developments from the labs make it into large-scale production. Eventually houses will be generating all their own electricity using photovoltaics as a matter of course.
But is there a way to think about the cost today that makes the cost even seem reasonable?