An Environmental Approach

A Demonstration "Eco-Home": Why Now?
  • Energy: Fossil fuels are a non-renewable source of energy - reserves are shrinking rapidly, yet demand is still rising.
  • Most energy used has associated greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming.
  • Global Warming: Climate change is accelerating, greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions are still rising, and the U.S. produces the most greenhouse gas emissions per capita.
  • Market-Driven: Consumer awareness is rising and more potential homebuyers want energy-efficient and "green" features in a new home.
  • We have the knowledge and availability right now to build to standards that would reduce energy consumption by at least 50%, without drastically changing building materials or methods.
Buildings, Energy, and the Environment
  • Buildings use fossil fuels: oil, coal, natural gas
  • Building construction and operation account for close to 50% of all U.S. energy use (
Ecological Concepts Used to Define the Overall Approach for the Eco-Home
  • Resource conservation
  • Human health and comfort
  • Reduced consumption of commercial electricity and natural gas
  • Reduction of greenhouse gases and other emissions
  • Increased use of the sun as a source of renewable, non-polluting energy
How the Ecological Concepts Translate Into Building Design and Construction
  • Passive solar design
  • Smaller than average house with a simpler footprint
  • Increased insulation levels and thermal performance of the building envelope
  • Active renewable energy systems: solar photovoltaic (PV) to generate electricity, solar thermal collection for domestic hot water and heating, and a wood stove for additional heating
  • Installation of energy-efficient appliances and lighting
  • Ventilation systems and materials specified to promote a healthy indoor environment for occupants
  • Quantified consumption targets for low-energy building operation
Setting Goals, Reaching Goals
  • Energy Star has become a well-known entity. Current Energy Star Homes have the target of 15% more efficient than the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC) (
  • The Eco-Home is 65% more efficient than the 2004 IRC
  • It is designed to use about a third of the energy of a conventional new home
  • Energy modeling with REMDesign guided and verified the efficiency targets
  • Eco-Home operation: over 15,000 lbs of CO2 emissions can be avoided annually

Web Content created by Wagner Zaun Architecture and Conservation Technologies under a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency 2007