Investing in the right construction systems for saving you money is investing wisely in what matters. Today buildings are addressing environmental and health concerns and eventually this is all going to be the norm in design and construction. The NAHB found that 84% of Millennials are willing to pay 2 to 3 percent more for energy-efficient home as long as they can see the return on their power bills. Simple to achieve today. The Energy Star home standard has shown to be already 20 to 30 percent more efficient than typical building code standards. Going further, a certified Passive House will use less overall energy than a typical code-built home. In doing Passive House design, even spending even 2% more where it counts makes more sense than spending needlessly on larger mechanical systems; for which the investment pays off through ultra-low energy bills over the life of the home with increased value.

Currently the most common ways of improving the health and efficiency of a home while creating a home that stands out is to incorporate heat recovery ventilation systems that filter air continuously and use little energy. Supplemented with solar panels, rainwater harvesting tanks and cisterns, graywater recycling systems, weather-controlled watering stations, permeable pavers, drought-tolerant plants, and no or low-mow grasses and the home can reap more benefits with more money invested wisely. According to the International Passive House Association, passive home buildings use up to 90 percent less energy than conventional buildings.

What is a Passive House?

Passive House is a construction standard that looks to minimize the heating and cooling loads as much as possible through passive measures like orientation, massing, insulation, heat recovery, passive use of solar energy, solar shading, elimination of thermal bridges, and incidental internal heat sources.

The passive house performance represents approximately 90% reduction in heating and cooling energy usage and nearly 75% reduction in primary energy usage compared with standard build – while making a comfortable, healthy and affordable built environment.

What are Zero-Energy Homes?

Zero-energy homes, as defined by the Zero Energy Project, “produce as much renewable energy as they consume over the course of a year, leaving the occupants with a net zero energy bill, and a carbon-free home.”

Although zero-energy homes typically cost a little more than conventional homes, they also offer significant savings in the total cost of ownership.

What are the benefits of these techniques? Here are a few:

  1. Improved comfort and health of end-users
  2. Reduced operational costs
  3. Potential to save end-users thousands of dollars over the life of a home
  4. Of particular importance to real estate developers: The ability to rent or sell units more quickly and at higher prices because the home is beyond comparison with a conventional home or building.

Admittedly, it’s not easy to apply these techniques.

If it were, everyone would be doing so.

But it’s easier than you might think. I know this first-hand from my work on a project called Viridian Future (, which is on the drawing boards. Some of the techniques we’re using on this project are:

  • Climate control through insulation, solar awnings, and high-efficiency HVAC
  • Solar power generation
  • LED lighting and daylighting strategies
  • Three waste management systems for compostable waste, recyclable waste, and non-recyclable waste
  • Use of water collected on a roof garden
  • Recycled materials and avoidance of toxic materials
  • Centralized controls for power consumption/generation and water usage
  • Solar collectors for daylight collection

Would you like to learn more about these techniques and discuss how you might apply them to future projects? Click Here to schedule a consultation call.