Zero Energy Homes A New National Education Program

Building Science for Cost Effective Approaches to Zero Energy Homes

Many energy codes and home energy rating standards today are based on the goal of creating homes that use minimal energy and homes that are Zero Energy Homes (ZEH) Ready.  For a home to achieve ZEH cost-effectively, the project needs to be approached with complete integration of disciplines and systems, as opposed to a product-based list of solutions. Students in this class will learn how to employ resource-efficient design principles, technologies, products and performance metrics integrated throughout the building process.  The curricula will focus on all sources of energy use in the home, and concentrate on judiciously employing renewables only after the benefits of the most cost-effective energy-saving products and best construction practices have been utilized.

Zero Energy homes require substantial enclosure performance and HVAC system enhancements to attain performance significantly above our current industry standards. This workshop uses real world examples to demonstrate cost effective methods in overcoming barriers to achieving high thermal resistance and low air leakage to reduce energy loads in ZEH home enclosures. High-efficiency HVAC equipment, high-efficiency windows, and mechanical ventilation for low load homes will be discussed. Steve provides the pros & cons of high performance options; the physics behind common failure mechanisms and gives advice on problematic materials and construction methods. The course gives builders the knowledge to build ZE homes that are durable, safe, healthy, energy efficient and comfortable to live in.

Major Topics

  • Practical floor plan & elevation design tips
  • High performance walls, floor and attic insulation and air sealing
  • HVAC system design and equipment options for low load homes
  • Fresh air ventilation calculations and HRV/ERV systems
  • Cost effective window technologies and installation
  • Practical, advanced framing techniques
  • Plug loads, and green circuits
  • Lighting design and LED lights
  • Water heating strategies
  • Water and moisture management and the 4 control layers


As a result of attending this class, participants will be able to:

  • Specify insulation and air sealing strategies required for ZEH homes
  • Evaluate and select wall and roof assemblies for ZEH homes.
  • Specify windows based on performance properties that are important for ZEH projects
  • Identify HVAC equipment and design tips for low load homes
  • Specify advanced framing strategies
  • Specify fresh air ventilation systems