Affordable net zero home honored for innovative design approach

Affordable net zero home honored for innovative design approach

The innovative ABC Green Home has won the prestigious 2013 PCBC Gold Nugget Grand Award for the "Best Zero Net Energy Home Design."

Designed as an Affordable, Buildable and Certifiable (ABC) Green Home, this appealing Craftsman-style, 1,695-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 3-bath home is a net zero energy-consumption model home, which provides a blueprint for builders on how to mass produce environmentally-friendly houses that generate as much energy as they consume.

Built by Southern California Edison (SCE), BCA Development & North Orange County ROP-BITA Program, and Peninsula Publishing, and designed by KTGY, the ABC Green Home represents an industry-wide collaboration of approximately 70 companies that contributed labor and materials to design, build and accessorize the home with available materials, technology and appliances at a cost which is competitive with conventional housing.

Students from seven Orange County high schools assisted with construction of the ABC Green Home as part of special educational efforts aimed at students interested in construction trades.

The high-tech, high-performance home is equipped with the latest energy and water efficiencies and onsite/offsite monitoring systems and includes solar panels, a cool roof, and a system that recycles the water supply within the house. It was built with less wood and more insulation to allow it to regulate and maintain a comfortable ambient temperature.

The home includes an ACT D’MAND Kontrols® Pumping System that provided hot water faster and reduces water waste waiting for hot water to reach a faucet. On-demand pumps are recognized to save both water and energy by the United States Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

The typical wait for hot water, besides being inconvenient, leads to needless water waste and energy costs.  Nationally, over 10,000 gallons of water and over 3000 kWh are lost, per home, each year.

The pump is incorporated into plumbing system of the home and operated from the kitchen and master bathrooms. A wall plate with in each room has a small door bell type button. When there's a need for hot water, the homeowner presses the buttons, and the ACT D’MAND Kontrols® system will activate. The button will light up to a green glow and will shut off when the hot water reaches the location. This sends a signal to the electronic control pump near the water heater, which prompts the pump to send hot water quickly throughout the home in about one minute. Once the hot water is throughout the home, the pump will automatically shut off.

The savings on energy is estimated to be over $350 per year, and $6,000 over the life of the ACT D’MAND Kontrols® pumping system, not to mention the added convenience of immediate hot water.

The home was also designed using Universal Design principles including lower counter tops and wider doors and hallways for wheel chair access and user-friendly features for all life-stages.

"The affordable design and the incorporation of universal design details literally puts this net zero energy home within reach of anyone," said KTGY’s Manny Gonzalez, AIA, LEED AP and principal, and the project’s lead designer. "There are very few affordable, entry-level, certified green homes being built by production homebuilders for sale today in America so the home serves as a template for future housing."

The ABC Green Home serves to educate and train builders, students, industry groups and thousands of visitors about sustainable living and is currently on display at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif., for the remainder of the year. The ABC Green Home will also be on display as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013, which will take place Oct. 3-13, 2013, at the Great Park.

The organizers are currently in the process of securing certifications and ratings from U.S. Green Building Council for LEED, Build It Green, EnergyStar, CalGreen and California Advanced Homes Program.

Green features

Home specs

  • 1,695 sq. ft.
  • 3 bedrooms
  • 3 baths

Building envelope

  • "Walls of the Future": 2 inch x 6 inch lumber set 24 inches apart instead of 2x4s spaced 16 inches apart. Wider lumber allows for wall studs to be further apart, reducing the amount of wood used by 40 percent.
  • The walls are also multi-layered with 2-inch ridge “ThermalStar” foam and “BlueSkin” water barriers on the outside and spray-on foam on the inside.
  • Holes in walls made for vent, water and sewer pipes are sealed to prevent energy loss
  • Radiant-barrier roof

Energy efficiency

  • Heat pump – more energy efficient than a typical gas furnace
  • Solar panels
  • Programmable system that reduces power when energy demands are high on the grid.

Water efficiency

  • Gray water: a tank is installed in the bathrooms to capture water from the s ink and reuse to flush toilets
  • On-demand recirculation pump

Pump photos © Advanced Conservation Technology Distribution, Inc.

Home Photography © Christopher Mayer

Wall Graphic © Peninsula Publishing

Read more about Great Green Homes.

Topics: Bathroom, GREAT GREEN HOMES, Kitchen, Water Saving Devices

Companies: ACT D'MAND Systems

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