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Net Zero Homes

A zero energy building (ZEB) or net zero energy building is a general term applied to a building’s use with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. Zero energy buildings can be used autonomously from the energy grid supply – energy can be harvested on-site. The net zero design principle can be applied to virtually any I.G. Construction new home or building plan. Generally, the more extreme the exposure to the elements the more energy is needed to achieve a comfortable environment, therefore ZEB is often recommended to our clients.

The zero fossil energy consumption principle is gaining considerable interest as renewable energy harvesting is a means to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Statistics show that traditional building use can consume 40% or more of the total fossil energy.

Types of Net-Zero Energy Buildings

A building may meet multiple NZEB definitions, increasing its merit as an NZEB.

Net-Zero Site Energy — A building that produces and exports at least as much renewable energy as the total energy it imports and uses in a year, when accounted for at the site. The measurement time frame is annual.
Net-Zero Source Energy — A building that produces and exports at least as much renewable energy as the total energy it imports and uses in a year, when accounted for at the source. “Source energy” refers to the primary energy required to generate and deliver the energy to the site. To calculate a building’s total source energy, imported and exported energy is multiplied by the appropriate site-to-source conversion multipliers.
Net-Zero Energy Costs — A building where the amount of money a utility pays the building’s owner for the renewable energy the building exports to the grid is at least equal to the amount the owner pays the utility for the energy services and energy used over the year.
Net-Zero Energy Emissions — A building that produces and exports at least as much emissions-free renewable energy as it imports and uses from emission-producing energy sources annually. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides are common emissions that NZEBs offset.

Design Implications

During the design phase, the I. G. Construction team can determine which net-zero energy definition to pursue based on the project goals and the values of the design team and the client.

All I.G. Construction clients care about energy costs and work closely with us to achieve the net-zero energy costs definition. Organizations such as the U.S. Department of Energy are concerned with national energy numbers, and are typically interested in reaching net-zero source energy. A building designer may be interested in site energy use for energy code requirements. Finally, those who are concerned about pollution from power plants and the burning of fossil fuels may be interested in reducing emissions.

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