I had a chance to visit with another client yesterday as the excavators were finishing up the dig for his new Zero-Energy Home. A zero-energy home is a building that roughly uses the same amount of energy that is created on site by renewable systems. This “farmhouse” will use similar strategies to the carbon-neutral home that also just broke ground in Harrisonburg. We have designed energy-efficient walls, heating and cooling systems, and windows. The house will be built to a size comfortable for the homeowners, but not too big. We have paid close attention to the basics of building science making sure we orient the house just right on the site, have the right angle on the roof and overhangs, and placed windows appropriately to take advantage of passive solar. The house also has the usual amenities including incredible views from the front porch and an open floor plan concept.
So with two houses under construction that are aiming at zero-energy goals and others in the works looking to be zero-energy ready or close to zero-energy, what has changed. The answer is simple. Solar has become a good investment. It is not longer just for those people who care about the future of our planet (I really wish that was not a choice that we had to make – why would anyone not care?). Using solar to power your home has become a wise investment once you take care of making your home as efficient as possible.
It is so fulfilling to work with clients that want healthy, energy-efficient, and durable homes. This is honestly not something you get unless you hire an architect focused on building science. We look at things different and make sure the systems you are using are coordinated and fit your specific goals. Design really does matter. It impacts comfort, function, style, and energy-efficiency. The time has come where these are mandatory items along with the nice kitchen and master bedroom suite. Clients want a home that will use as little money as possible to maintain and operate and that is what we do.