Net-zero carbon, net-zero cost, net-zero source, net-zero site, near net-zero, net-zero ready...there are many terms used to describe a certain category of buildings that are referred to as "net-zero energy buildings" (or NZEBs).
Maclay Architects developed a section of its website for those interested in learning more about net-zero buildings complete with case studies for net-zero projects and links to other resources.
“We see this as a resource for those interested in reducing their energy costs and reducing their carbon footprint, whether they are building new or renovating an existing building,” says William Maclay, owner of Maclay Architects. “I believe net-zero energy buildings represent the best long-term solution to the environmental, energy and economic challenges we face.”
One case study the firm offers is The River House, which is a net-zero residence set on a stone dam abutment above the Mad River. It directly connects to the location through the use of site-harvested stone in both the building and the landscape. The house uses a super-insulated envelope, on-site photovoltaics, and a ground source heat pump to achieve its net-zero energy goals. The linear structure is accented with three daylight monitors rising through a sedum-covered extensive green roof.
The house uses photovoltaic and solar hot water arrays to power a ground source heat pump and integrated domestic hot water system. Electrical loads are reduced throughout the building and mechanical systems to align with the output of the solar generation systems. The residence benefits from an East-West orientation that allows low-e windows to passively emit solar energy into the living space. The energy is stored in a dark concrete slab which runs throughout the house. The super-insulated envelope helps conserve the energy generated in the home's active and passive systems.
“Buildings are costly to operate and are a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Maclay. “Designing our buildings to meet tougher energy standards makes economic and environmental sense.”
William Maclay is also one of five contributors to a recently launched blog www.netzerovt.net dedicated to the topic of helping Vermont become the first net-zero energy state.