By Brent Sauser
Does building Net Zero mean giving up on traditional or conventional design? That is a common misunderstanding when I speak to others regarding whether they would be willing to live in a Net Zero, off-the-energy-grid house. The misperception is that they need to give up the aesthetics of traditional or conventional residential architecture. Many of the photos they see look very different from what they are more comfortable with. It’s a leap they are not willing to make.
Net Zero design is the thoughtful and sensitive combination of sustainable design principles with a desired aesthetic appearance, all working in harmony. That is, Net Zero design is not just frosting, but also the cake, where form and function rise together. In reality, a Net Zero design can incorporate most any conventional shape.
As an example of this, please consider the following Net Zero house, designed by dbs Architects PLLC. This is a 2,240SF conventional-looking, two story, three bedroom home that is made from seven 8ft x 9’6”x 40ft shipping containers. The lower roof incorporates a 9kW solar panel system. The floor plans illustrate a traditional layout that could be used in non-Net Zero construction. Living Net Zero, off the power grid, is not a sacrifice . . . but a giant leap toward energy independence! The cost for this Net Zero home would be in line with a similar home built non-Net Zero. The ways and means are here and now to transition to Net Zero and free ourselves from rising utility costs and live a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.