VEIC Helps Vermont Meet Net-Zero Construction Goals

Challenge:

Vermont’s comprehensive energy plan includes a challenge to achieve net-zero energy with all new residential and commercial construction by 2030. VEIC responded to this challenge and to an industry-wide desire to move toward net-zero construction practices with a research and development project intended to design high-performance homes (HPH). VEIC’s goal is to achieve market transformation in the residential new construction sector so that a greater percentage of homes are built to a tier that exceeds energy efficiency standards for Vermont ENERGY STAR Homes (VESH).

Solution:

VEIC began the HPH project in 2009. They designed the prescriptive tier that defines HPHs, recruited and trained builders, enlisted homeowners, and installed monitoring devices to track energy use as well as HVAC performance and indoor air quality. VEIC followed the project through design, construction, and completion. They monitored each home for a full year to collect data, troubleshoot, and provide customer service support for monitoring equipment.

There is no common definition of high-performance, but it is accepted to include: low energy use from high levels of insulation, thermal-bridge-free construction, triple pane windows, very low air leakage, ultra‐efficient appliances, state of the art heating and cooling systems, heat recovery ventilation to recapture waste heat, and building processes that ensure quality installations at every step.

Results:

  • HPH homes use about one-third less energy than a typical VESH home, offering comfort through high-performance building envelopes, ventilation systems, and windows.
  • Monthly energy savings pay for the incremental costs of HPH energy efficiency measures.
  • HPH have about 60% lower outdoor air infiltration than typical VESH homes.