California’s Central Valley will be home to the state’s largest net zero energy (NZE) housing development, slated to open in the second quarter of 2018. De Young Properties is behind the forward-thinking construction.
“We know that at some point the state will require everyone to do this. Why not learn it ahead of time, get used to it and figure out how to bring costs down earlier?” said Executive Vice President Brandon De Young on greentechmedia.com.
De Young’s goal is to minimize a building’s electrical load and install enough solar to cover what load might remain. The builder also focused on improvements to the building envelope by using higher density wall and ceiling insulation, better insulated windows, high-efficiency air conditioning systems and an electric heat pump.
De Young also opted for 4×6 lumber for the building frame, instead of the traditional 2×4 wood, and insulated the roof (as opposed to just the ceiling of the building) so that attic HVAC systems won’t have to use extra energy to counteract heat from the outside of the home.
The last step was analyzing how much solar will be needed to match the total annual demand of the unit.
The total load of these units will be considerably smaller than equivalent-sized units without the net-zero makeover, which should minimize the broader impact to the grid and emissions in general.
NZE initiatives are not only for building construction. A wastewater treatment plant in Gresham, Oregon, recently achieved net zero energy consumption. To achieve this, the plant, back in 2005, installed a biogas generator, which allows the facility to convert methane gas into energy. In 2010, the plant installed a 1,900-panel solar array to add to the facility’s renewable energy initiatives.