This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 04, 2002

Construction of Zero Energy Home Underway in Tucson, Arizona

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 4th to mark the building of a zero energy home in Tucson, Arizona. The project, supported in part by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), will combine energy-efficient construction with active and passive solar energy systems, allowing the house to return as much energy to the electrical grid over the course of a year as it uses.

"What we're literally doing here is building a small power plant one house at a time," said local builder John Wesley Miller, who is constructing the house. "Once we monitor the success of this home, it's likely that we will build more in this community."

Thanks to a net metering program offered by Tucson Electric Power, the home's meter will spin backwards when the home generates more power than it uses, allowing the homeowner to earn credit for electricity that is fed into the power grid. The NAHB Research Center (NAHBRC) will evaluate the home's energy performance. See the DOE and NAHBRC press releases.

The home is one of four zero energy home projects comprising a DOE national initiative administered by NREL. Researchers at NREL are working with four home building teams to introduce the zero energy home concept into the construction industry for single-family homes. See the Zero Energy Buildings page on the DOE Solar Buildings Program Web site.

While zero-energy homes are still a rarity, efficient Energy Star homes are springing up all over the country. In New York City, a new development of 30 three-family houses in the South Bronx is the first affordable housing project in the state to earn the Energy Star Homes label. The designation is awarded to homes that are at least 30 percent more energy efficient that the building code requires. The $12 million development is the first completed project of the High Performance Building Program, a joint initiative of the New York City Housing Partnership and New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (NYCHPD). See the NYCHPD press release.

And in Las Vegas, Nevada, Pardee Homes marked its 50th anniversary in October by building an Energy Star home in only 50 hours. Pardee Homes recently became the only large U.S. builder to commit to building all its new homes in compliance with the Energy Star program. See the October 12th press release on the Pardee Homes Web site.