The BrightSense approach to affordable net-zero energy homes
- Step 1: Examine the complete building envelope and work diligently with the architect to reduce the heating and cooling loads to a minimum by applying the most effective Passivhaus features. Our goal is to create an ultra-tight building envelope with passive solar design elements that minimizes winter heat loss, summer heat gain, and air infiltration, because avoided energy consumption is most cost effective. A 50% energy reduction over the original design is not unheard of.
- Step 2: Carefully quantify the remaining heating and cooling loads, and put them into perspective with the local climate, orientation of the structure, and other site specific factors. In many cases traditional sizing tools like Manual J are suggesting loads that are 25 – 50% over sized.
- Step 3: Select the most efficient equipment for the job. We are great fans of ground-source heatpumps, because they are extremely efficient and reliable no matter how frightful the weather may be outdoors. But ground-source may not be applicable in every situation.
- Step 4: Calculate the annual energy loads plus any additional requirements the homeowners may have, and size a PV system that allows the homeowners to meet the annualized net-zero energy goal. Thanks to the earlier optimization we typically have no trouble fitting this smaller system onto the structure’s roof.
Tightening up the envelope and reducing uncontrolled infiltration of outside air requires every team member from the architect to the carpenter, insulation contractor, electrician, plumber, etc. to work toward the common goal of creating an undisturbed and perfectly sealed envelope. At BrightSense, we know the importance of quality control and site supervision and we spend as much time on site as needed during this phase, because a disappointing blower door test requires costly rework and possibly derails the construction schedule.
By optimizing the home and the equipment first, the resulting HVAC system is greatly reduced in size and cost. The homeowners get to enjoy a super insulated home that is extremely comfortable and quiet, filled with fresh filtered air, and is resilient for many years to come. Its active heating, cooling, and ventilation systems give people the flexibility of a thermostat they can turn up or down as desired. In most cases the savings on utility bills are greater than the incremental cost for design improvements resulting in actual cash savings from day one.
Call us today to discuss how to eliminate energy bills from your home.
Hans Joachim Preiss
Office: +1 720.500.5470