Zero net energy homes test will guide California to Big Bold Goal

Zero net energy homes test will guide California to Big Bold Goal

Photo courtesy of Meritage

A community of 20 zero net energy houses will be built as part of an energy use evaluation project in California.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will lead an effort by three companies, a utility, and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in evaluating the energy use and grid integration of  the  homes, the first development of a community of highly-efficient houses in the state.

Meritage Homes, BIRAenergy, Itron and Southern California Edison (SCE) will work with EPRI and the CPUC in building and evaluating the project, which will help California meet its “big bold goal” for all new houses in the state to be zero net energy by 2020 and meet the state’s stricter limitations of carbon emissions.

Results from this project support EPRI’s work with utilities in the United States and abroad on a more integrated power system while propelling CPUC’s objectives to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy in the state of California.

Zero net energy houses, with help from the grid, are designed to generate the same amount of energy that they consume. They have been a central goal of California strategies aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. However, they were neither cost-effective nor available for most homebuyers until recently.

Zero net energy houses still rely on the grid, both to absorb excess solar generation during the day and to deliver power at night. Over the next several years, the project team will study how these houses and their advanced technologies can be effectively integrated into the utility’s electric grid. Simultaneously, researchers will investigate avenues that improve the scalability and economic feasibility of these communities across the state.

Meritage Homes designed the houses in the development. The dwellings feature such items as high-efficiency solar panels, HVAC systems, water heating equipment, heat pumps and integrated fresh air ventilation. Additionally, each will have spray foam insulation, highly insulated windows, energy-efficient lighting, smart chargers and smart appliances.

With these technologies, the homes are projected to curb energy use by as much as 60 percent compared to a house built to the latest California Energy Code. The model houses, which range from 1,936 square feet to 2,915 square feet, are on display at Meritage’s Sierra Crest community in the North Fontana area.

“This project represents an ideal site and an ideal team to evaluate the effectiveness of energy efficient housing, equipment and appliances,” said Ram Narayanamurthy, EPRI project manager. “The data that are collected will likely guide future developments of zero net energy housing in California and elsewhere and how they integrate into the electric system.”

Read more about green building certifications.

Topics: Building Green, Certification / LEED, Connected Homes / Smart Homes, Cost of Ownership, Energy Audits, Energy Star, Going Green, GREAT GREEN HOMES, Home Design & Plans, Solar Power, Sustainable Communities

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