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5 amazing net zero energy homes

Matthew Grocoff

May 5, 2016

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: Green Living

Living Building Challenge has over 300 registered projects around the world in nearly every climate zone, home style, and price. One thing they have in common is that the owners have free energy for life and will never pay a gas or electric bill again.

To be certified as a net zero energy home, one hundred percent of the project's energy needs must be supplied by on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis, without the use of on-site combustion. Another imperative of the Living Building Net Zero Energy Building Certification is that it must be beautiful. Check out these stunning homes that are leading the transformation to a world of healthy, pollution-free homes.

Desert Rain House

Bend, OR

The Desert Rain house

Desert Rain is an extraordinary example for how luxury homes can be beneficial to the environment rather than harmful. It is in the process of documenting net zero energy performance for certification. The house is designed to produce enough energy to power not only the entire home, but also two electric cars.

The Zero Energy House

Aukland, New Zealand

The Zero Energy House

Knowing that on any given day they could spend more than half their time inside their home, Jo Woods and Shay Brazier wanted to create a sustainable, green home with seven goals in mind: 1. energy efficiency, 2. low embodied energy, 3. water conservation, 4. health & comfort, 5. waste minimization (but since they are from New Zealand, they spell it 'minimisation'), 6. low pollutant emissions, and 7. durability.

Zero Cottage

San Francisco, CA

Zero Cottage in San Francisco

David Baker, the owner/architect of the Zero Cottage, calls this home "an investigation of compact, sustainable urban development and a contemporary approach to living and working." The cottage is certified LEED for Homes Platinum. It is the first Passive House-certified home in San Francisco and officially achieved Net Zero Energy Building Certification in June 2014.

Mission Zero House

Ann Arbor, MI

Mission Zero House in Ann Arbor, MI

I'm a little biased about the Mission Zero House, because it's mine. Built in 1901, the home is currently the world's oldest home to be certified Net Zero Energy, though I hope it doesn't hold the title very long. This home is a testament to the reality that net zero energy can be achieved in a home of any age in almost any climate zone. Despite annual temperature swings from -20F to +98F, the home keeps my family cozy all year long and produces more energy than we use.

Willowbrook House

Austin, TX

Willowbrook House in Austin, TX

Sunshise Mathon wanted to create an inspiring and comfortable home for his family. He remodeled a 1948 home with a small addition to net zero energy while retaining the original character of the house. Because of the smart design and use of very efficient systems, Willowbrook uses a small 4.5kW solar array on the roof to supply all of the energy needs of the home over the course of the year. As with all certified Net Zero Energy homes, it is 100% electric and uses no gas or wood.

Learn more about Net Zero Energy and the Living Building Challenge here.

You can also check out the new book featuring some of these homes: The Power of Zero: Learning from the World's Leading Net Zero Energy Buildings

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