zHome was the first net zero energy town home complex in the United States. The project was launched to spur the market toward deep green housing for the average person. As such, zHome was built to rigorous environmental benchmarks of net zero energy use, a 70% reduction in water use, a 90% construction recycling rate and theuse of only low- and non-toxic materials, among other specifications. All zHome units that went up for sale eventually sold at slightly above standard prices for the time and area, despite going on the market at the tail end of the Great Recession.
The question arises: How does zHome actually measure up, now that people live there? Is it a successful example of affordable, net zero living?
Post-occupancy data is somewhat of a rarity, so we are very excited to share with you the results of our research on zHome. Happily, based on utility data, we have found that zHome achieved its benchmark of net zero energy, and, in fact, releases excess energy onto the grid, producing 3.5% more energy than is consumed. Further,despite a recent drought, the average zHome resident uses 16.07 gallons of water from the utility per day, which is well under average - depending on the baseline comparison, either approaching or exceeding a 70% reduction.
Interviews with homeowners demonstrated that although adapting to life in a zHome necessitated getting used to new technologies and involved a learning curve, life is comfortable and enjoyable. In fact, zHome owners have become outspoken on the topic of green living after moving into their zHome. Now, after a few years of occupancy, it can be said that zHome met its goals and is a successful demonstration of what the future of green building can entail, with positive implications for both builders and homeowners!
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For further coverage on zHome's inspiring results, check out: