Gaines Group Architects
Net Zero Home

Harrisonburg Zero Energy Home – Update

Harrisonburg Zero Energy Home – Update

Click here for a previous update on this project.

Progress continues on our Zero-Energy home that is under construction on Willow Run Road just outside of Harrisonburg. This home will produce the amount of energy needed for operations on a net basis. In other words, during the daylight hours, the solar pv array will produce enough energy back into the grid that the house can be powered via the grid at night. In order to make this design affordable, we super insulated the walls of the structure.

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We decided that Insulated Concrete Forms was the best wall system for the structure to reduce heating and cooling demand. This is also a very quiet wall system and durable for a very long time. The insulation is on the inside and outside of the concrete wall. This is air tight and continuous insulation making a high performance wall assembly.  net-zero-house-3 net-zero-house-4

We went to visit the site on the day that they were pouring the first level concrete walls. It is an excellent learning opportunity to see the builders in action and hear their concerns about the assembly.20161228_101643

The system is fairly simple to stack. The key is to reinforce in the right places and pour at the right speed to avoid “blow outs” during construction. This job was flawless while we were there. The builder took extra care around the angled walls to keep everything tight and straight.20161228_10180620161228_10181620161228_102416

The basement walls and workshop under the basement are not conditioned spaces so they do not require the ICF walls.

20161228_110030The steep site allowed for the garage to enter on the first floor level making the entire house accessible if that is ever a concern in the future.

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net zero home

Another Net-Zero House breaks ground in Harrisonburg

Another Net-Zero House breaks ground in Harrisonburg

I had a chance to visit with another client yesterday as the excavators were finishing up the dig for his new Zero-Energy Home. A zero-energy home is a building that roughly uses the same amount of energy that is created on site by renewable systems. This “farmhouse” will use similar strategies to the carbon-neutral home that also just broke ground in Harrisonburg. We have designed energy-efficient walls, heating and cooling systems, and windows. The house will be built to a size comfortable for the homeowners, but not too big. We have paid close attention to the basics of building science making sure we orient the house just right on the site, have the right angle on the roof and overhangs, and placed windows appropriately to take advantage of passive solar. The house also has the usual amenities including  incredible views from the front porch and an open floor plan concept.

net zero home

So with two houses under construction that are aiming at zero-energy goals and others in the works looking to be zero-energy ready or close to zero-energy, what has changed. The answer is simple. Solar has become a good investment. It is not longer just for those people who care about the future of our planet (I really wish that was not a choice that we had to make – why would anyone not care?). Using solar to power your home has become a wise investment once you take care of making your home as efficient as possible.

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It is so fulfilling to work with clients that want healthy, energy-efficient, and durable homes. This is honestly not something you get unless you hire an architect focused on building science. We look at things different and make sure the systems you are using are coordinated and fit your specific goals. Design really does matter. It impacts comfort, function, style, and energy-efficiency. The time has come where these are mandatory items along with the nice kitchen and master bedroom suite. Clients want a home that will use as little money as possible to maintain and operate and that is what we do.

zero energy home