Built Green: Innovations January 2008
Owner Builder Newsletter
What is the future of Building Green?

The future of Building Green seems to be headed toward the concept of zero-energy building.  A zero energy building (ZEB) or net zero energy building is a general term applied to a building with a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year.
Although zero-energy buildings remain uncommon in America, they will be gaining in importance and popularity. The zero-energy approach is promoted as a potential solution to a range of issues, including reducing carbon emissions, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. 
Most ZEB definitions do not include the emissions generated in the construction of the building and the embodied energy of the structure which would usually invalidate claims of reducing carbon emissions.
Obviously, the jury is still out on the "final" definition of what may be considered a zero-energy building.  The technology continues to be a work-in-progress.
This is Part 3 of the Owner Builder Newsletter dedicated to Green Building issues.  This final issue pf the 3-part series takes a look at 2007 Solar Decathlon held in Washington, D.C. and those organizations doing research on the future of Building Green.
For Parts 1 & 2, see the OBS NEWS ARCHIVE.
Solar Decathlon

The Solar Decathlon joins 20 college and university teams in a competition to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house.  The U.S Department of Energy's Office of Energry Efficiency and Renewable Energy is the primary sponsor of the Solar Decathlon.

Twenty college and university teams entered zero-energy houses in the Solar Decathlon held in October, in Washington, D.C.  The houses were evaluated in 10 categories including architecture, engineering, livability, heating and cooling, water heating, and powering lights and appliances.
A perfect score in all 10 categories results in 1,200 points.  The winner, Germany's Technische Universitat Darmstadt, had 888.45 points; second- and third-place winners, the University of Maryland and Santa Clara University, had 872.45 and 860.80 points, respectively.
Building America
Building America is a private/public partnership that develops energy solutions for new and existing homes. The Building America project combines the knowledge and resources of industry leaders with the U.S. Department of Energy's technical capabilities. Together, they act as a catalyst for change in the home-building industry.
Building Science
provides objective, high-quality information about buildings. This resource combines building physics, systems design concepts, and an awareness of sustainability to promote the design and construction of buildings that are more durable, healthier, more sustainable and more economical than most buildings built today.

Integrated Building and Construction SolutionsIBACOS (Integrated Building and Construction Solutions) researches the basic science of home performance and best construction practices and processes. They also help enable production homebuilders to increase the quality and performance of their homes through services that focus on Best Practices in Homebuilding.

 Building Industry Research AllianceThe Building
Industry Research Alliance (BIRA) is a diverse coalition of over eighty industry partners committed to improving energy and resource efficiency in residential housing for the Department of Energy's Building America Program. The goal of BAP is to build marketable, cost-effective Net Zero Energy Homes across the country by 2020.
BIRA, one of the six DOE teams, is led by California based energy consultant ConSol. BIRA works with innovative home builders to combine solar energy systems with highly energy efficient designs, construction practices and technologies.