Imagine a home that costs less to heat or cool… a home that generates almost as much energy as it uses.
You no longer have to imagine such a home exists, because this groundbreaking prototype is being made a reality. Local builder, Bob Ward Companies, is building M.E.G. in conjunction with the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Home program, the National Association of Homebuilders Research Center and the Maryland Energy Administration.
Bob Ward Companies’ homes are already distinguished with the EPA’s “Energy Star®” label. This label tells you that the homes are at least 15 percent more energy efficient than what is required by code. The companies’ energy conscious building philosophy made it a natural choice to build this unique home which will exceed even the impressive Energy Star® efficiency standards.
Combining state-of-the-art, energy efficient construction techniques with renewable energy systems, like solar power, this home is unlike any other to date in production building. Some of the features M.E.G. will include are: framing techniques that reduce construction costs and improve energy efficiency, insulating and air sealing details that significantly reduce air leakage, tankless water heater that offers an unlimited supply of hot water, PEX homerun plumbing system, affordable whole-house mechanical ventilations system, solar electric (PV) system, solar water heating system, low-e windows that offer an approximate 35% improvement over standard double-pane glazing, EnergyStar® appliances and more.
M.E.G. is expected to use less than half the energy of a standard code-compliant home and its construction is helping to provide vital information and education as to how to build homes that are ultra energy efficient. In fact, builders from all over the region are visiting and touring this home so that they may incorporate the building methods and materials into their own houses. Homebuyers may also become acquainted with the latest innovations and exciting possibilities for more efficiency and comfort.
Homes built like M.E.G. are connected to the utility grid, but overall, with their reduced energy needs and electricity generated by the sun, they will produce a portion of the energy they consume. Although homeowners won’t actually receive a check from the utility, their electric bills will be significantly lower because they are producing part of their own electricity; in fact, the meter will spin backwards whenever power is returned to the utility.
Efforts like these are the first steps beyond the EnergyStar® label towards building homes that eventually will have a net-zero energy bill over the course of a year. In addition to the energy savings, the homes also provide greater comfort, better indoor air quality, enhanced durability and reduced maintenance.
M.E.G. is part of a joint effort by the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Home program, the National Association of Homebuilders Research Center, and the Maryland Energy Administration, with the goal of improving the energy performance of new and existing homes and to ultimately build a home that is 100% energy free. The project integrates advanced energy-efficient technologies and construction methods with renewable energy systems to create a high performance production home that will serve as an educational model for builders, designers, and trade contractors in the local area. Decreased energy use and utility bills are only two of the benefits of this home. The upgraded features also result in greater comfort, better indoor air quality, enhanced durability, and reduced maintenance. Once completed, the home will be one of the first ultra energy-efficient production homes in the Mid-Atlantic region and is expected to use less than half of the energy of a standard code-compliant home of similar size.
Bob Ward Companies, one of the largest home builders in metropolitan Baltimore, Maryland, currently builds communities of townhomes and single family homes that are 100 percent ENERGY STAR® rated. Completing about 200 homes per year in Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, Bob Ward has been a leader in the homebuilding industry offering customers high quality and added value by incorporating promising new technologies into their product. As one of the first ENERGY STAR builders in Maryland, the company has placed considerable importance on the energy efficiency of their homes. Therefore, they were a natural choice as a builder-partner to demonstrate innovative energy efficiency features and construction methods as well as renewable energy technologies. Their PowerHouse project will offer designers, builders, trade contractors, and homeowners practical solutions for creating high performance homes at affordable prices.
The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has served Maryland since 1973 with a primary goal of maximizing energy efficiency while promoting economic development throughout the state. Through federal and state funding, the MEA educates multiple constituencies including consumers, private business, government officials, and media to increase awareness about the importance of energy efficiency both locally, as an economic driver and nationally, to reduce reliance on foreign energy resources. In the housing industry, the MEA has worked with builders across the state to expand the ENERGY STAR program and improve the energy and environmental performance of new and existing homes.
Building America is a program within the U.S. Department of Energy that seeks to improve the energy efficiency and overall performance of new and existing homes. With a goal to increase the energy performance of new homes by 70% over the next 20 years, Building America partners team with production builders to incrementally improve the energy efficiency features of their homes. Through value engineering and identification of practical, market-ready technologies, builders can incorporate equipment, systems, and construction methods that enhance whole house performance and reduce monthly utility bills while maintaining reasonable first costs. The long term goal of the Building America Program is to develop cost-effective energy-saving and renewable energy systems for homes that ultimately will result in a net zero-energy home.
The NAHB Research Center (NAHBRC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), is a leader in the home building industry’s research and development efforts. Since 1963, the NAHBRC has sought to advance housing technology, identify and expedite the incorporation of innovative technologies, and improve construction methods while enhancing housing affordability. The PowerHouse project is an example of the work that NAHBRC undertakes with builders to identify and document practical technical solutions that improve the quality, performance, and affordability of homes and home building products.