Case Studies of ZNE & High-Performance Homes

Below is a list of other Zero Net Energy (ZNE) projects from around the U.S. We invite you to browse these projects to learn more about this revolutionary new approach to housing.

1970s Home Goes Net Zero

Boulder, Colorado – A remodel with an insulation and energy system update that’s hard to beat. Intensive renovation has made this modest ranch house in the suburbs of Boulder, Colorado, an example of what all green builders strive for — a net zero energy home. Changes include an extreme insulation retrofit, a 6kW photovoltaic array installed on the roof, and an evacuated-tube solar hot water system. The build team now expects this house to produce 130 percent of its own energy needs. A grid-tied system allows the excess electricity to be “stored” until occasional winter cold snaps require the 9kW modulating electric boiler to fill in.

Solar Village Custom Zephyr

Silverthorne, Colorado – This home is at 9,000 ft in a pristine Summit County location (Home of Breckenridge and Keystone Ski Areas).  The home was designed to show that a ski town home can have the high end features and stunning views without the usual high energy costs.  With radiant floor heat supplied by solar hot water, solar PV power, and a super insulated structure with passive solar design, this could be one of the most efficient second homes ever built.  This home also has an internet based thermostat system which allows the owner to track the homes temperature from anywhere and raise it up to a comfortable setting from an ultra-efficient setting so they always arrive to a comfortable temperature. Designed for super efficiency in any climate and sold at a very reasonable price tag, these types of homes are bound for popularity. Ecofutures recently partnered with Solar Village Homes to provide construction services.

Affordable ZNE by Habitat for Humanity & NREL

Wheat Ridge, Colorado – Habitat for Humanity’s goal is to supply quality housing to poor families while reducing their energy cost burden, especially in light of ever-increasing energy prices. Habitat Metro Denver partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America Project and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to improve their construction and design process to create an affordable home that is not only cost-effective and volunteer friendly to build but highly energy efficient and a comfortable place to live.

Habitat Metro Denver streamlined its building process by working with NREL researchers to create a series of Energy Demonstration Homes that are responsive to climatic conditions.

Zero Energy in Dallas

Dallas, Texas – The two-story, 3,800-square-foot luxury house will include modern amenities, a screened porch and a 2.5-car garage and will sell for approximately $600,000. The home was a demonstration project for the Department of Energy’s Building America program.

The house was designed by architect Peter Pfeiffer, who specializes in “sustainable” or “green” building practices, and is considered one of the leading experts on passive cooling strategies and radiant barriers. Since 1987, his firm has completed more than 400 commercial and residential projects that conserve resources and minimize pollution. Last year, Pfeiffer’s home in Austin was named “the greenest home in America.”
Portland, Oregon
1,900 square-foot ZNE demonstration home built by the Oregon Renewable Energy Center to identify critical systems and components involved in building net-zero energy in the northwest.

Cherry Lane, Idaho
ZEH for Tribal Lands project: Manfuactured [pre-fabricated] Zero Energy Housing.

Sacramento, California
95-home ZNE community called “Premier Gardens.”

Las Vegas, Nevada
The 2004 “Ultimate Family Home” by Pardee Homes, NREL, DOE and ConSol.

Tuscon, Arizona
1,685 square-foot ZNE demonstration home completed in 2004 in partnership with the NAHB Research Center.

Chicago, Illinois
Casa Kirk, a 29-unit affordable housing development in South Chicago: under construction by Clareton Associates with half of the homes equipped with PV arrays as a step toward zero energy housing developments.

Chicago, Illinois
Zero Energy Homes for Chicago “EcoPower” Project: designed to utilize RECs as a mechanism for making low-income housing more affordable by employing them as residential solar generation stations. Original proposal was for 100 solar homes to be built in Chicago’s west side. 7 currently under construction.

Norman, Oklahoma
2006: The first ZNE home under $200,000.

Lakeland, Florida
Florida Solar Energy Center’s Zero Energy Homes project.

Westbrook, Georgia
Solar EarthCraft Zero Energy Home: Building techniques for hot-humid climates.


Edmonton, Canada
The Riverdale ZEH Project.


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