Sustainability surrounding the building of a home used to focus on the structure and durability of the dwelling. With growing awareness of the possible environmental crises, the term now also relates to constructing houses and buildings to minimize the effects of climate change.
The goal of sustainability is a relatively new concept called "net-zero energy." Essentially, NZE encompasses a building that contains renewable energy that offsets the energy used in the building. Findings are determined on an annual basis.
Residential homes and commercial complexes dominate the power grids. Buildings use 40 percent of the raw energy, from all sources, produced in this country but also use 80 percent of the available electricity.
Many cite the complexity and high costs of designing residential and commercial structures to achieve that much-needed zero base. While it represents a quantum shift in construction methods, certain strategies should not drive up construction costs.
- Mother Nature is a good place to start. Design methods that create more daylight can heat, while gusts of wind can provide cooling.
- Tried and true insulation, combined with airtight construction, can significantly reduce the loss of heat and cooling.
- The efficiency of electricity, as opposed to natural gas that requires an outside source, can make a difference. The ability to produce electrical currents within the dwelling self-contains that power source.
- Let the sun shine in. Existing homes and offices that may not be as well insulated and sealed can benefit from photovoltaics (PV) to generate electricity, offsetting energy usage.
No one is saying that NZE is a simple process. In most cases, achieving net-zero comes from a combination of appliances, construction methods, and other technologies. What is available now does not have to make construction costs unaffordable.
Embarking on a cutting-edge construction project or renovation has inherent complexities beyond how a structure is built or renovated. Legal help to start the process is an important first step.