Net-zero energy homes prove that completely sustainable homes are financially feasible. Through the use of solar panels on the roof and through sealing the walls and windows to improve insulation, the GreenSpaces’s “NextGen” home sold for $364,000 to Chattanooga residents Chris Wilson and Jill McKay. The couple, who searched for an eco-friendly home through the listings in the Chattanooga North Shore area, found that most homes in the area cost nearly as much as the NextGen home, but required nearly $100,000 in upgrades to meet their goals of sustainability.
The NextGen home should produce at the very least as much energy as it consumes. Design goals included incorporating solar panels on the roof for energy generation, and an energy efficient design to reduce losses. The panels will handle all of the home’s energy needs. A compact shape, and airtight sealing reduce the energy consumption in heating and cooling the home. While no insulation is perfect, spacing studs farther apart in the NextGen home allowed less space for air to travel through the walls. Heat loss through windows reduced through a crank open design that allows the window to seal on all four sides.
The need for lighting is minimized through the use of natural light, with windows high on walls. Additionally, the high windows vent hot air out of the house during the summer months. Energy also saved through the use of purely LED lighting, and a ventless dryer that recycles its air. The NextGen home should use only half of the energy a traditional home uses.
“GreenSpaces launched the NextGen project with a design competition in 2014. About a dozen teams of architects, engineers and builders from a 200-mile radius of the homesite, on Hamilton Avenue, came up with detailed proposals.”
The NextGen project will consist of four houses, but the remaining three do not yet exist. Currently, GreenSpaces expects to start the second house in march, while all three should finish within a year of starting.
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