8/15/2015

Proud Green Home Senenbe: Near Net-zero Living

In the American Southeast, electricity bills skyrocket during the hot, humid summers. Air conditioners are cranked up to maintain indoor comfort, making a near net-zero home a difficult achievement.

A state-of-the-art single family near net-zero home was recently constructed outside of Atlanta, Georgia in Senenbe, in what is an experiment in New Urbanism, where farmland and open space are preserved around clustered homes. The architects designed the Proud Green Home in Senenbe as an integrated system, with advanced building techniques– producing an award-winning finished product.

Instead of thinking of building elements in isolation, each building product was considered in relation to the others. For example, the heating and cooling system works in concert with the Zehnder energy recovery ventilator, enabling outstanding air quality and energy efficiency.

The mini-split heat pump provides efficient heating and cooling for the home, while the Zehnder energy recover ventilator supplies fresh air, exhausts stale air, and recycles heat and coolness from the intake air to the exhaust air. The ventilator can also boost or lower the humidity level of indoor air. The ability to reduce summer humidity levels allows greater home comfort and displaces air conditioner use –saving lots of energy.

The Zehnder energy recovery ventilator also promotes indoor air quality by filtering out common asthma triggers and allergens, such as pollen, mold, and dust. By venting out stale air instead of recirculating it, polluted indoor air is replaced with fresh air. The air intake vent location was carefully selected for optimum indoor air quality.

Many design elements in the home allow both durability and energy efficiency. Generous amounts of insulation, air sealing, and overhangs on the south-facing windows reduce the heating and cooling load on the HVAC system, extending its life. The polished cement floors allow for more even temperatures and require little if any maintenance.  The Zehnder energy recovery ventilator exhausts excess moisture from daily activities avoiding mold problems while pre-heating or pre-cooling the intake air from the exhaust air.

All the energy efficiency features of the home allow it to be near net zero with a solar system that fits on the roof. This means that the solar system can generate as much power as the home consumes.  Only through a winning combination of advanced energy-efficient building technologies can a home achieve this level of sustainability.