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A near-zero energy, 2,900-square-foot single-family home inPaterson, N.J., is demonstrating that a house constructed with easy-to-install insulating and structural systems can also be gorgeous and 80% more energy-efficient than a conventionally built home.
The home is a proposed template for an ongoing City of Paterson project to build 3,000 affordable housing units in one of New Jersey's largest and most economically challenged cities.
Using zero-energy housing concepts researched and recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the home achieved a 93 HERS (home energy rating system) Energy Star score and, with the inclusion of solar panels, earns energy rebates through New Jersey's Solar Initiative Program.
The home’s air-tight building envelope was achieved by combining solar thermal and photovoltaic systems with insulating concrete forms (ICF), a shotcrete exterior system and structural insulating panels.
Once the foam panels were erected, concrete was poured in the space between them and allowed to cure. The completed wall system delivers thermal resistance of R-30 and the combined foam forms and concrete reduce air infiltration and provide thermal mass that, depending on the climate, can push the effective R-value even higher compared to an equivalent wood frame wall.
The second floor walls and roof were constructed with structural insulated panels made by sandwiching expanded polystyrene (EPS) resin foam boards between two oriented strand board panels.
The exterior walls were covered with a cement-based Monotech Building System — a proprietary system by Monotech International of Houston — in which a half-inch polymer-enhanced shotcrete coating is applied directly over EPS rigid insulating foam.
This system is significantly stronger than stucco and saves construction costs because it is easy to install and does not require heavy equipment. The system is also earthquake-, wind-, water- and fire-resistant.
In addition to the energy-efficiency benefits these systems provide, they are durable, do not create mold or insect habitats and are recyclable. In each technique, insulating foam is almost continuous throughout the wall and roof systems, with almost no seams and joints through which air can flow.
Other uses of concrete in this home include:
Poured concrete floors on the first and second levels to provide radiant heating
Concrete pavers used for an outdoor patio
Cultured stone on some interior walls and part of the exterior front wall
Terraced concrete masonry used to edge the landscaped beds
The home’s construction exemplifies how mixing technologies, smart use of design and materials, energy efficiency and accessibility can go hand in hand to create a durable, efficient and beautiful single-family home that is affordable.
For more information on the other features of the near-zero energy home in Paterson, N.J., visit www.betterhomebetterplanet.com.