An Overview of Zero Energy Homes: Why Island Carpentry Chooses Green Building Standards

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Green Building Standards
Green Building Standards

Overview of Zero Energy Building

Wouldn’t it be great to save hundreds or thousands on energy bills while also helping to save the planet? Those are two main incentives for choosing a zero energy home. Island Carpentry has been building zero energy homes for twelve years, but this style of building is still just catching on in the mainstream, so I’ll go over the basics about what zero energy building means and why a prospective homeowner may be interested.

A zero energy house is a house with zero net energy consumption. In other words, the amount of energy used by the house is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the house’s site. A builder can accomplish the goal of zero energy through the design, materials, and technologies used in the construction of the house. For instance, a passive-solar design orients the house to utilize the natural warmth and light of the sun. Other common elements of the zero energy homes built by Island Carpentry include superinsulation (the use of certain materials and techniques to ensure minimal heat loss during cold Maine winters) natural ventilation, air-source heat pumps, and renewable energies such as solar panels.

Since 2010 I have built eight zero or near-zero energy homes, such as these which you can find on my website: Energy Independent Cape Cod  Style Home, Net Zero Energy on Cumberland Ave. in Portland, Maine, and another Net Zero Cape Design. I began reorienting Island Carpentry toward green building standards because I felt the need to align our way of life with the needs of the environment. Simply put, old methods of building are unsustainable to the planet due to their high carbon footprints, and they are only becoming more costly with time.

More and more people are interested in zero energy building because the payoffs are clear. A home is a long-term investment. Cutting out heating and electric bills over a span of a decade or two or three can mean enormous savings for the homeowner. Further, zero energy home owners find peace of heart knowing that their values and ways of life are aligned with the needs of Earth. When the interests of economy and ecology are aligned, then we know we’re on the right track.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about zero energy building or would like to connect about planning your own home. Last, here’s a more in depth look at one of our zero energy homes.