The Evolution of Efficiency: Net Zero as the New Normal
Experimentation and learning have led one builder to integrate energy-smart techniques into everyday construction.
Synopsis: As forward-thinking builders learn new concepts and share their successes and failures with fellow builders, homes they build are beginning to resemble each other in terms of advanced building features. These net-zero-energy homes are often compact two-story designs with the long axis oriented in an east-west direction, and most have triple-glazed windows and walls with high R-values. Increasingly, these homes are equipped with roof-mounted photovoltaic (PV) arrays and are heated and cooled by ductless minisplits. Custom builder Paul Biebel, president of Prudent Living Homes in Vermont, is a prime example of this ongoing evolution.
Biologists note that when unrelated species occupy the same environment, evolutionary changes sometimes alter those species in similar ways. After millions of years, a swimming bird like a penguin, a swimming mammal like a dolphin, and a swimming fish like a shark tend to resemble each other: They all have sleek, smooth bodies and propel…