ET: How do upfront costs of developing a home like this compare to a typical new suburban dwelling?
Ferrier: The upfront cost typically consist of a greater degree of planning and energy modeling, often utilizing a building science firm to confirm the use of products and systems that will work together synergistically to achieve net zero energy. For our Zero Energy Casita we spend about $450 with such a firm and spent probably another 30 hours in additional planning. We do have a 28 year history of building near zero energy homes that we pull into every project that gives us a great head start on what works and what doesn’t work.
ET: What went into building the Zero Energy Casita? What makes it unique in your opinion?
Ferrier: It is a great example of carefully thought out planning and modeling. We started with the owners’ previously drawn plans, tweaked them to increase the energy efficiency of it in such areas as shading, overhangs, location on the site to maximize shading from 50’ existing trees and 30’ existing shrubs and placement and sizing of windows. Then we explored options and ran them through an energy modeling process to confirm choices of our extremely energy efficient 6.5” SIP (Structural Insulated Panel) walls and 10.25” SIP roof panels, Weather shield windows with ZOE-5 glazing system, ThermaTru doors, vented Galvalume metal roof, High efficiency Carrier AC units, Seisco Tankless hot water heater, SkyStream 3.7 Kw Wind Turbine, Energy Star appliances and lighting, etc.
ET: Can consumers except to see more homes like the Zero Energy Casita in their cities soon?
Ferrier: I believe we will see a steady increase in the number of such homes. With the continual increase in energy costs, folks concerned with our dependence on foreign oil and the increasing sentiment of wanting to be independent, combined with the increasing desire to “invest in our own homes instead of the power companies”, is driving the great interest in such homes and the acceleration of their construction.