Zero Energy Homes: The Standardization of Energy Efficient Homes with Supplemental Renewable Energy in the Private Sector
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With the sustainability movement gaining momentum and real estate development occurring as long as there is a flow of capital and land to build on, it is time to figure out how humans can continue to build structures with a negligible impact on the earth. While sustainable development incorporates a wide array of socially and environmentally responsible practices, energy reduction in buildings and generation of onsite renewable energy will play a critical role in mitigating the effects of global warming and humans’ overall impact on the earth. Buildings consume roughly 40% of the energy and 75% of the electricity used in the United States.1 While implementing strict energy and efficiency codes for new construction and retrofitting existing buildings are necessary to preserve today’s world for future generations, the use of onsite renewable energy will close the gap to achieving truly zero net energy buildings. Regional location will play a big part in understanding how to adapt buildings to different environments and climates and there are limited resources and comparables pertaining to this topic, especially in the Southeast. The literature review highlights issues concerning ZEHs, the private sector’s willingness to adopt sustainable practices, and overall sustainable real estate development including third-party rating systems and dynamically subjective metrics such as the link between water and energy use. Additionally, this analysis aims to highlight the importance of ZEHs, to identify and remove barriers to market penetration, and to provide a reliable, inspirational, and economically viable pro-forma for builders wishing to pursue this method of socially responsible building.
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