As the U.S. market for green building design and construction evolves, we are hearing much more lately about net-zero buildings. Homes and commercial buildings that earn the net-zero badge of honor do so by demonstrating extremely high-performance in energy efficiency. To qualify as net-zero, a building must be able to prove that its total annualized energy-related operating costs are brought down to $0.00. Some net-zero buildings even produce more energy than they consume in a year, generating positive cash flow. These impressive feats are made possible via careful implementation of innovative architectural designs and detailed construction strategies — including smart integration of on-site renewable energy systems, especially geothermal heat pump technology.
The best of the best zero-energy buildings are developed using a combination of smart passive solar design, extreme attention to detail in the construction of the building envelope and insulation systems, and intelligently designed and correctly sized and installed geothermal, solar PV, and solar thermal systems.
Aggressive energy efficiency strategies, combined with geothermal heat pump systems, are by far the largest contributors to the ability of a building to reach zero energy nirvana in most climate zones by nature of their 24/7, rain or shine performance. Any building project attempting to achieve net-zero performance should always consider geothermal heating and cooling. In fact, it is extremely rare to hear of a truly net-zero building that does not implement some type of geothermal HVAC strategy.