Market for Zero Energy Homes Seen as Early as 2012
Although Zero Energy Homes (ZEH) have yet to make much of a dent in the new home marketplace because of their cost, market penetration of high-efficiency homes with solar energy systems has already begun and will continue in certain areas where financial incentives are provided, Thomas Kenney, vice president of contract research for the NAHB Research Center, said last month.
Addressing members of the Construction Marketing Research Council, Kenney reported on the driving forces behind the anticipated proliferation of highly-efficient ZEH through the year 2050, drawing on research in the center’s special report on “The Potential Impact of Zero Energy Homes.”
Kenney said that many ZEH homes exist today, proving that they are technically feasible. Connected to the utility grid, the homes combine highly energy-efficient design and technology with solar electric and thermal systems to produce as much energy as they use on an annual basis, resulting in net zero energy consumption and a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Kenney, rising energy costs will drive further increases in the already growing number of energy efficiency improvements in home appliances, building envelopes, windows and mechanical systems. Continued development of these energy-saving technologies, he said, combined with state and federal tax incentives for renewable energy systems will help create a favorable economic environment and lead to home buyer interest in ZEH in the coming years.
With continued federal research and development programs to lower the cost of advanced energy-efficient building technologies and solar thermal and electric equipment, the ZEH concept will begin to spread into the U.S. housing market as early as 2012, he said. This would potentially reverse the upward trend in energy use and ultimately lower energy consumption of the entire U.S. housing stock even as the cumulative number of homes continues to increase.
The Research Center’s ZEH report was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Lab.