The 4 Key Steps for Designing for Net Zero Construction in Vermont

If you’ve discovered net zero construction in Vermont, you realize you’ve discovered the most efficient living space on the planet. With the unpredictability of utility costs coupled with foreign energy dependence, net zero is the smart choice for both today and the future.

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What Does it Take to Build a Net Zero Home?

Building a net energy home requires not only technical know-how but careful planning. Think of net zero construction in Vermont as more of an integrated system of design elements for your home rather than a structure with some fixtures inside.

Here are four key steps you’ll need to take to get started on the energy-saving home of your dreams:

Step 1) Select a Builder and Begin a Dialog

Before you select a builder, make sure they have the qualifications and experience to deliver what you want. Once you select a builder, you’ll want to have a discussion on key topics:

  • Your practical needs, square footage, number of rooms, etc.
  • Your lifestyle as it relates to energy needs. Your builder should want to know your energy-usage patterns so he or she can determine your total household energy supply needs. This assessment will determine renewable energy needs (and how many solar panels may need to be installed).

A common myth to net zero construction in Vermont is that the size of your home may be restricted, or your level of comfort somehow compromised in order to achieve performance. In fact, net zero homes can be built to any size requirements and are typically more comfortable, less drafty, and better ventilated than may be seen in a home constructed more conventionally.

Step 2) Qualify the Essential Space You Need

How many square feet should your home be? That’s often the first question people ask when envisioning their new home. Inefficient space becomes wasted space.  All living space should be purposeful.

Why is this topic important? Because not only is non-essential space wasted or underutilized, all space, both essential and non-essential, factors into sizing the renewable energy component of your home, and the overall cost to build.

Step 3) Get a “Cost / Benefit” Analysis

With net zero construction in Vermont, you’ll have a lot of choices. Some of those choices will relate to actual needs, while some selections speak to ‘wants’ and appropriately reflect your lifestyle. For example, something as simple as heating hot water can offer a plethora of options and approaches (such as direct solar, hybrid systems, etc.) and can be influenced by both traditional home water needs (i.e. showers) and the anticipated use of things like hot tubs, jacuzzi baths, etc.  

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You’ll want to compare and contrast such selections as they will affect your costs of construction and potential payback. You’ll want to understand both the cost and the ‘benefit’ of each component, and when possible, utilize analytics such as a “break even” analysis to support or reject components. 

Step 4) Assess Maintenance of Each System

Net zero construction in Vermont virtually eliminates energy costs. And a high performance home can substantially reduce related maintenance requirements.

Two areas of home maintenance may include exterior upkeep and repair or replacement of mechanical systems. While there have been many advancements made in weather-proofing exterior components like windows, trim, and siding, the same is true with many mechanicals.

For example: The newest Cold Climate Heat Pump systems are technologically very sophisticated but easy to operate and unlikely to require the level of maintenance a conventional boiler system may require.