Plans for Solar Homes
           & Example Solar Home Designs

Help on finding solar home plans, what's important in solar homes, and examples of well designed solar homes.

 

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Be sure to also look at the "I Did It" example homes

 

 

 

Questions? 
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Plans for Passive Solar Homes
Sun Plans

http://www.sunplans.com

Designing Your Place in the Sun,
Debra Rucker Coleman,
Home Power Magazine, issue 116, Dec 06
 

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Good site for passive solar plans.  Offers info on a number of plans online, and a SunPlans book.


New article in Home Power by Sun Plans architect Coleman gives solar design guides and shows 6 nice sample plans to fit a variety of situations.

Sun-Savvy Near Zero Energy Demonstration Home

Full details...

Plans from Sun-Savvy homes...

Sun-Savvy has managed to put together a normal looking, not too expensive near net zero energy use home that I think should appeal to many home buyers.  They offer plans from 500 sqft up.

This is a fairly detailed report on a display home that Sun-Savvy put together for the Parade of Homes in St George Utah. The home uses a combination of good thermal envelope, efficient heating and cooling, efficient lighting and appliances, passive solar design, plus both solar thermal and solar electric systems to produce a near zero energy use home that appears to be practical and cost effective -- full details...

Sunlight Homes

http://www.sunlighthomes.com

 

 


"Sunlight Homes designs environmentally friendly custom homes specializing in updated passive solar and green concepts and has sold home component packages with super insulated, SIP panel construction across the continental US since 1975."
Their designs emphasize high insulation values, tight sealing, and high R value windows to allow less south glazing and more freedom in layout.
Sun Terra Homes

http://sunterrahomes.com

 

A nice selection of passive solar plans for sale, along with good explanations for each of the passive design features in their homes.
Passive Solar Homes -- 91 new award-winning, energy-conserving single family home plans,
U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1982

The Plans

 

This is (I think) a really interesting and useful collection of passive solar home plans.
It came out of a competition that HUD sponsored in 1982 for passive solar home designs.  These 91 award winning plans were selected from more than 500 entries by builders, designers, and architects.
This was a very active time in passive solar home design, and the plans show a high level of innovation. 
This is the first 30 -- rest to come as time allows.
Affordable "Near Zero Net Energy" Homes,
L. Darrell Jones, July 2009,

www.britannica.com/blogs/...

www.ruraldevelopmentinc.org/... (pdf)

More details and plans here
http://www.ases.org/...

These homes in the $200K area have very good thermal envelopes combined with solar water heating and solar electricity.
The envelope is efficient enough that even in this cold climate, only a small gas space heater is needed for heating.  R43 double stud walls. 

(Thanks to Erik for finding more details and plans on this project)

Bale Watch

www.BaleWatch.com

 

Nice site for strawbale home plans and information.  Information of 50 passive solar strawbale construction plans.  Plus other strawbale construction information.

The plans to (to me) emphasize all the right things -- small efficient design, super insulation, passive solar, efficient plumbing, ...
StrawBale.com

http://www.strawbale.com

 

DVD's, articles on strawbale construction.
A very active workshop schedule.  

Examples of strawbale homes they have done with owners. 

"... welcome to my straw bale building site dedicated to anyone interested in building their own straw bale house."

The Green Builder

www.strawbalehomes.com

 

 

Good site on strawbale house construction.  They offer plans, strawbale workshops, and design consultation.
Quite a bit of interesting information on the site.
Earth Sheltered Technology, Inc.

www.earthshelteredtech.com/Default.htm

 

 

A large selection of earth sheltered home designs.  These are homes that are completely surrounded by earth except on the solar gain side.

The company uses a poured concrete domed roof for strength to support a green roof, and for the visual effect of  cathedral ceilings.

A Guide To Building and Planning Solar Homes  -- Solar Homes for North Carolina II

A Design Competition Planbook • June 1999

Energy Division, North Carolina Department of Commerce

38 Page Guide and Plans (3.1 MB pdf)

A 38 page guide to passive solar home design and concept level plans for nine solar homes.  Written for North Carolina, the homes emphasize a careful balance between solar space heating in winter and overheat protection in the summer -- should be applicable to other parts of the SE.

Affordable Passive Solar Planbook for North Carolina

Appalachian State University

http://energy.appstate.edu/sites/default/files/APSplanbook.pdf

The plan book you can download at this link includes design guidelines and construction details for energy efficient homes as well as quite a few plan examples -- very nicely done

 

 

A plan book of affordable passive solar homes from Appalachian State University.  Sizes range from 900 to 1300 sqft, and all include passive features such as south glazing with overhangs for summer overheat protection, thermal mass floor slabs, carefully thought out wall and ceiling details to reduce heat loss and allow good insulation.  The modest size of these house, coupled with using only the most cost effective solar and energy saving features makes these homes both very energy efficient and very affordable.   Good job ASU!
I'd think about adding or making provisions for solar water heating, and, perhaps a whole house fan for summer cooling if you have cool nights.
Each house has a downloadable full plan set available -- all free.
TodaysPlans.net

http://www.todaysplans.net/

 

Architect Don Berg has put together a growing collection of mostly free plans and guides for building energy efficient small homes.

The emphasis is on smaller and more efficient homes, but other energy saving DIY projects are also covered.

Lakeland, Florida -- Side by Side Test,
Florida Solar Energy Center

Comparison of energy of a home designed with many energy efficiency features to a same size conventional construction home.

http://www.fsec.ucf.edu

 

 

 

This is a very detailed and carefully done study of two houses of the same size in Lakeland Florida.  One house was built conventionally, and the other was equipped with a wide array of features to reduce energy consumption, including: reflective roof, internal duct system, thermal mass inside insulation, high efficiency and properly sized AC,  well designed overhangs, and optimal windows. 
The measured energy consumption was 70% less on the house with low energy use features.  A solar PV system offset and additional 22%, bringing the net energy use to near zero.
The reports provide quite a bit of detail on the saving achieved by each energy efficient design feature.
Energy Efficient Building Technologies (EEBT)

http://www.eebt.org/index.html

 

Tom Pittsley's construction company.  A builder of energy efficient homes.  Lots of interesting material on this site, including some cutting edge technology in energy efficient home construction.
MK Solar -- Michelle Kaufmann Designs

http://michellekaufmann.com/

 

 

MK Solar designs and builds  prefabricated green, solar home homes.
The website gives some fairly complete descriptions of several of their designs.  What makes these houses "Green"?
HomePlans.com -- Solar Home Plans

http://www.homeplans.com

Some solar home plans for sale
Adobe Builder

http://www.adobebuilder.com/sitemap.html

Oikos
http://oikos.com/library/adobe/index.html

Adobe Home Plans,  Information, workshops, books, and the Adobe Builder Magazine
eBackroad

http://www.ebackroad.com/2building-green.html

 

A good list of resources for designing and building green and solar homes.
Dream Green Homes

http://www.dreamgreenhomes.com/

 

Quite a variety of passive solar designs using a variety of construction techniques.
Rick Thompson -- Architect
Solar Home Plans

http://www.thompsonplans.com/

 

Rick offers a growing variety of plans for passive solar homes.

 

Kezar Homes, LLC

http://www.kezarhomes.com

 

 

Solar and efficient home designs that are affordable.

 

Suncatcher Solar Home Designs

www.suncatchersolar.com

 

Suncatcher Solar is a Saskatchewan company offering solar home design and plans.
They also have an interesting solar community project in the works.
Wayne Design

http://www.waynedesign.net/

 

Feb 19, 2013: Wayne's site may be down for a while for redesign.

A wide range of innovative solar home designs from cabin size up.
Passive Solar Home Design Examples
Some examples of passive solar designs
Be sure
to also look at the "I Did It" example homes
Resource Efficient Homes Across America

A Construction Technology Showcase

www.homes-across-america.org/index.cfm

 

 

 

This is a directory of of homes across the US that use "green" and energy efficient construction.  
An overview of each house and its green features is provided.  While the descriptions are not highly detailed, it is a good place to look at a variety of types and styles of energy efficient construction.  A useful resource -- especially when looking for ideas.
A Deep Energy Retrofit

Full Details...

The details include a 30 page description of he design and construction process, a photo gallery, and a detailed thermal analysis spreadsheet.

NEW -- After 1 Year Report...

This is the most carefully thought out energy retrofit I have seen.  Gordon and Sue took a drafty 1963 brick schoolhouse with almost no insulation and converted into a home with a heating bill that is 6% of a similar size code built home in their area.   

Features include: R40 Larsen Truss walls, triple glazed R6 super windows, glazing revamped for passive solar heating, a new solarium, a hand crafted masonry heater, and much more.  In addition to a very good thermal envelope. Like most good designs, this one is simple and robust without a lot of gadgetry.

Riverdale NetZero Project

One of Canada's First 12 NetZero Energy Homes

http://www.riverdalenetzero.ca/


Detailed presentation including description of the design and construction detail (9 MB)

 

Very impressive net zero home in Edmonton, Alberta.  A raft of energy efficient and renewable energy features integrated into a well thought out overall design.

Doubly impressive when you consider how challenging the Edmonton climate is.

The Van Geet Off-Grid Home: An Integrated Approach to Energy Savings

 

www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/32765.pdf (1.8 mb PDF)

 

More on Building America/Habitat collaboration homes...

A detailed (70 page) description of a passive solar energy home design west of Denver at 9300ft elevation.  This is a Building America research home, and much effort was put into making the design efficient without making it too expensive.  An about 70% energy saving over conventional construction was achieved without any heroic measures.  MUCH detail is given on the design process, and some simple metrics are presented that could be used by anyone designing a solar home.

The David Allan Solar Heated and Cooled Home in Colorado...

 

unique passive solar home David Allan's passively solar heated and cooled house in Colorado.

The house includes a number of unique features, indluding: 1) a large (66 by 22 ft) Trombe wall that has living space on both sides of it and also serves as the main structural backbone of the house, 2) an attached sunspace with a thermosyphon heat distribution system that heats the north (far) side of the house, 3) a second sunspace under the first that stores heat in eutectic salts, and 4) a solar cooling system that uses a combination of earth tubes and solar chimneys to circulate earth cooled air through the house. Quite a few unique ideas. Unfortunately, not a whole lot of measured or logged performance data -- it would be great to get some actual performance of some of the unique features.

The video is long but interesting, and at the end David talks about some important improvements he would make if doing the house again.

Cristian's Earth Sheltered Passive Solar Home in Romania

 

20 pages of pictures, plans, and design & construction details...

 

A very detailed description covering the design, building, and performance of this earth sheltered, passive solar home in Romania.
Cristian's home also includes an extensive earth tube system, rain harvesting, solar hot water, carefully designed wood heating, and provisions for a future PV system. 
Its a fine design and a great story as well.
A Passive Solar Manufactured House -- A Unique Solar Design

Overview ...

IDetailed slide show on house ... (pdf)

One page chart summarizing house design ...  (pdf)
 

A unique solar design that uses the basement area as solar collector and for heat storage.  This design has provided 90% solar heating in an 8600 Degree Day climate (albeit with good sun).  A nice simple design that does not result in high construction costs.
Records for several heating seasons are provided.
Tracey's Passive Solar, Bermed, ICF affordable home

Details here...
passive solar bermed ICF homeThis is a very nicely designed 1300 sqft home in Prince Edward Island, CA. 

It uses earth berming, passive solar design, and ICF walls to put together a very efficient home on a not very large budget.

Details here...

The Kosmer Solar House Project...

 

Kosmer solar houseThis is an interesting passive solar heated home in upstate NY with a long track record of very low energy bills.

It includes a number of unique features, such as the use of the 12 inch thick slab for storing solar heat both direct from the sun and using ducts that pick up hot air at the peak of the house and run it through the slab.

The website gives a several page description of the design...

New Hampshire Super Insulated Home

www.buildinggreen.com/ ...

 

Fairly detailed description of a very efficient, super insulated home in New Hampshire.

The home uses a combination of high insulation levels, exceptional sealing, passive and active solar,  and very efficient appliances to very very low energy use.

An Illinois "Passivhaus"

http://www.thermotechfiberglass.com/EDU.pdf

 

 

A house in Urbana Illinois built to the German "Passivhaus" standards (and perhaps a bit beyond).
Very impressive total energy use performance.
There are a few things about the design that puzzle me a bit, but its very impressive in its performance.
Home Green Home,
Laurie Stone

How to get articles from Home Power ...

 

 

Home Power Magazine, issue 115, Oct/Nov 06.
A very good article describing a Colorado home that is not only very energy efficient, but is constructed with a strong emphasis on green and local materials, and within a budget.
Habitat For Humanity Energy Efficient Solar Home -- Denver

Denver Habitat Home (600K pdf)

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy05osti/36102.pdf

 

 

This Habitat for Humanity home cuts energy use by 60% by using a combination of improved insulation, infiltration control, passive solar gain, solar water heating, and a PV installation.  The improvement package was developed in a partnership between Habitat and NREL.
Habitat For Humanity Zero Energy Demonstration Home in Denver

Description of home:
http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy08osti/42591.pdf

Energy use report:
First two years of results for this home ...

 

This Habitat for Humanity home is similar in size to the one just above and is in the same area, but has additional features that result in further net energy use -- in fact, less than zero net energy use.

Added features include double stud R40 walls, R60 ceiling insulation with raised heel trusses, R30 floors, enhancements to solar water heating system, more attention to air tightness, more attention to glazing, and a PV system increased from 1.8 KW to 4 KW. 
The 2nd link shows that the natural gas uses for space heating and backup water heating is more than offset by the PV array generating excess electricity which is sent back to the grid -- so, net energy use is less than zero.
It would be nice to see how well each of the energy saving/generating features pay on their own.
The Energy Efficient House

Solar Today Magazine

Richard Crume

Solar Today Magazine article, Sep/Oct 2005.  Richard describes the process they went through in designing an energy efficient home that incorporates solar passive heating and cooling, solar water heating, and many energy conservation features.  It is the best article of its type I have seen -- highly recommended!

Read the full article

A High-Performance Spec House,
Christopher Briley,
Fine Homebuilding Magazine, Issue 179, May 2006

How to get articles from Fine Homebuilding ...

 

 

Fine Homebuilding article on a very well thought out and energy efficient solar home.  A combination of modest size, efficient envelope, solar passive heating, efficient heat plant, solar water heating, attached sun space, and very well thought out layout  make this home energy efficient and a real pleasure to live in.   Very nice.
 
Zero Energy, Infinite Appeal,
Nathan Good,
Fine Homebuilding Magazine, Issue 177, March 2006

How to get articles from Fine Homebuilding ...

 

Fine Homebuilding article on an Oregon zero energy home with a number of interesting energy efficiency features.
MK Lotus -- Modular efficient and sustainable home

From Inhabitat.com

http://blogs.smarter.com ...

 

 

Michelle Kaufmann's MK Lotus modular green home.

Emphasizes use of sustainable materials, water conservation and water reuse, and natural lighting.  The PV system is said to provide both AC and heating (in a mild climate).

Energy Saving Details,
Kip park,
Fine Homebuilding Magazine, Issue 92, Jan 1995

How to get articles from Fine Homebuilding ...

 

Fine Homebuilding Magazine article on a demonstration home built in Manitoba Canada.

Lots of interesting energy efficiency construction details.  Double R46 walls with excellent air sealing, R11 windows, grey water heat recovery, and a unique HRV system.
ECO House, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

http://www.inhabitat.com/2005/12/23/ecohouse-brazil/

 

A good overview of the ECO house.  This house in Rio de Janerio uses a number of innovative renewable energy techniques and passive cooling techniques.  Very interesting -- lots of good ideas.

The article  was posted by Sarah -- thank you Sarah!

 

Tavernier House,
William Hoffman

www.hoffmanarchitecture.com/...
Tavernier House Tavernier House embodies a number of techniques that can be used in a tropical climate to reduce or eliminate the need for air conditioning.  This is a house designed from the ground up for comfort in tropical climates.
Bio-Solar House in Thailand
Jan Krikke, Architecture Week

www.architectureweek.com

 

 

 

From the Architecture Week article: "It's an environmental dream: a self-reliant house that produces its own electricity, water, and cooking gas. Solar energy powers the air-conditioning, lights, and household appliances. Rain, dew, and condensation from the cooling system produce enough water for a family of four. Recycled water irrigates the garden, and surplus electricity is sold to the power company or used to drive an electric car 30 miles (50 kilometers) a day."
Straw Bale, Solar Home in the City,
Catherine Wanek
Mother Earth News

Mother Earth News Bonus Issue -- Summer 06


Finding Mother Earth News articles...

A nice, reasonable size solar passive house in a city environment.  Strawbale construction with  solar electric and  water heating systems.  The utility bills are 15% of the average house in this area.
The article does not provide a great deal of detail, but study plans are available for modest price.
BalComb Sunspace Home

Recent Solar Today Article featuring Balcomb House...

Unit 1 First Villiage, Passive Solar Building: A Compilation of Data and Results, Sandia Labs, SAND 77-1204
 

 

Performance Graph


A well know solar passive design with an integrated sunspace.  Built in 1976.
89% solar heated in the 7000 deg-day New Mexico climate.
The links to the left provide fairly detailed information on the home. 
Low Thermal Mass Sunspaces


All the details on Low Thermal Mass Sunspace advantages, performance, design and examples...
Colorado low mass sunspaceLow thermal mass sunspaces are a way to provide very efficient space heating to the home (as efficient as high quality active solar collectors). 

At the same time they provide added living space that is good for a wide variety of activities. 
The sunspaces can also add to the aesthetic appeal and value of the home.

The new section on low thermal mass sunspaces provides design and performance data, heat output and efficiency tests, and several detailed examples of low thermal mass sunspaces that work well.

Cliff House

Cliff house by Norman Saunders (pdf)

 

This article by William Shurcliff describes the Cliff house.  This Norman Saunders 1980's solar house achieves 100% solar heating in a 6000 degree day climate -- quite and accomplishment.

The Best-Insulated House in the World?,
Rob Dumont

Detailed description from Rob Dumont...

Other articles on the home:

A talk comparing this home and others...

GreenBuiliding Advisor article...

The Sustainable Home article...

Dumont super insulated houseThis conventional looking home was built by Rob Dumont in 1992. It uses super insulation, very good air sealing, and some passive and active solar gain to achieve very low energy use in this extremely difficult climate (10,900 HDD).
The house uses 16 inch double stud walls filled with cellulose for R60, it has R80 blown in cellulose, and the windows are R5. A heat recovery ventilation system is also used.
So, this house uses straight forward, pretty low tech techniques to do a very efficient home for not a lot of extra cost (+$13,000).

The article provides a lot of good detail on the design and performance of the house.

Future Building Technology,
Juergen Korn

http://www.city.whitehorse.yk.ca ... (pdf)

 

 

Presentation by Korn on efficient home design for cold climates.
Several examples described, and a little bit of construction detail.
 
Solar Heated Home Using An Attached Greenhouse and Woodburning Stove

David Mears

The Paper (pdf)

 

This 1981 paper with 2004 update describes a solar heated house with a "flooded subfloor" thermal storage area. 

Seems like an interesting concept.  Report includes test data on a real house.

 

Rob Roy’s Earthwood Home

Rob Roy has done several articles for Mother Earth News -- search their site for Rob Roy
Finding Mother Earth News articles...

Note: Rob Roy has a good new book out on building earth sheltered homes -- listed here:
Rob Roy Earthsheltered Homes 

 

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 149, April/May 1995

An interesting and detailed article on building a round house that is earth sheltered, and passive solar.  Quite a bit of construction detail.  The house is 1100 sqft and cost $27,000 to build.

Tirehouse II – A small development company is inspired after reading about Michael Reynolds “earthships”.

Tim Rhodes
Finding Mother Earth News articles...


Earthship Central
http://earthship.com/

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 136  Feb/Mar 1993

Interesting article on developing a company to build earthship (rammed earth in tires) homes.    
Combine this with issue 128 article, and the Earthship book.
 

Passive Annual Heat Storage

John Hait

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

 

Some pictures of an Earth Tube installation:
http://www.earthshelters.com/Other_tube.html

 

 

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 91 Jan/Feb 1985

An article describing a scheme for passive solar heat storage on an annual basis.  The scheme uses a large "bubble" of dirt around the house that has a good thermal connection with the walls of the living area, but is isolated from the surrounding dirt by insulation and waterproofing.  Over time the temperature of the dirt bubble can be brought up to a comfortable temperature that varies only a few degrees over the year.

More information and a book on this scheme is available here:

http://www.earthshelters.com

Here is a review of John Hait's Passive Annual Storage book by  by Nick Pine.

PAHS Example in Virginia

http://paccs.fugadeideas.org/tom/index.shtml

 

 

Description of a Passive Annual Storage (PAHS) home in Virginia.
Much more window area than the Hait home above.

Building Tide Sun Cottage

Angus W. Macdonald, M. Arch.

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

This is the first in a 5 part series -- you can find the other 4 parts by searching Mother Earth for "Angus Macdonald"

 

 

Mother Earth News 5 part article, starts in issue 85

Five part series about building a solar cabin.

Designed by architect Angus Macdonald.

Mother’s $10 per square foot (or less!) Earth-Sheltered House,
Editors

Mother Earth News

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

This is the first of a four part series -- all are available on the MEN site.

 

Mother Earth News Article, starts in issue 85, Nov 83

An interesting round, earth sheltered, low energy requirement home built by Mother Earth News.  Incorporates a number of concepts in the construction, low water use, and mini-hydro electric generation that MEN had been working on over time.

Monolithic Dome Homes

Monolithic Dome Institute

www.monolithic.com/gallery/homes/index.html

 

 

Monolithic Dome Homes sells plans, books, equipment and materials for constructing dome homes.  The homes start with an inflatable "air frame", Polyurethane insulation is sprayed inside the air frame, then rebar reinforced shot Crete is applied inside the foam.  The web site provides a lot of information on the process and quite a few pictures of sample homes.  I have seen one report that indicated leaks can be a problem over time, so (as always) do your homework.
Dreamhill Dome Project

www.dreamhillresearch.com/dome/index.htm

 

Quite a detailed description of an ambitious dome home that is under construction.
Lots of detailed pictures on construction to date.  Fairly detailed plans for the dome.

Build A Water-Wall Home

David Bainbridge

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

David's recently updated paper on water walls (pdf):
www.builditsolar.com/Projects/SpaceHeating/AWaterWallIntro.pdf

 

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 84 Nov/Dec 1983

Passive solar houses that incorporate water containers for thermal storage.

The $15,000 Solar Arcade

Architect Angus Wyman

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

 

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 74 Mar 1982

A small (800 sqft) earth sheltered, passive solar home using high quality construction.

Cornell Solar Decathlon House Video Tour

http://www.youtube.com

 

Pretty good video of the Cornell entry to the Solar Decathlon.  

A fairly complete description of the features that make the house energy efficient and earth friendly.

Solar John in Wyoming with Automatic Solar Shutters These solar rest areas in Wyoming have a clever way of controlling heat loss from the large south facing passive solar glazing.  Potentially, a similar scheme could be used in a passive solar home.
 

Details...

Zero (or near zero) Energy Homes
Massachusetts Zero Energy Challenge Winning Home

All the details...

NEW -- ''as built" plans for this home...

This is a very impressive less than net zero energy home in MA.  It actually generates significantly more energy than it uses.
It uses a combination of a very good thermal envelope, solar passive and active heating, solar water heating, and a PV powered heat pump to achieve this performance.
All the details...
A Net-Zero-Erngy House for $125 a Square Foot,
Eric Thomas, GreenBuildingAdvisor.com

$125/sf Net Zero home...
net zero energy home for $124/sfDescription of 1900 sqft home that achieves net zero yearly energy use and low cost using passive solar, very good insulation and sealing, careful attention to efficiency, an air/water heat pump, and a large PV array.
Zero Energy Home Armory Park Del Sol,
Tucson, Arizona,
NAHB Research Center, Inc

http://www.toolbase.org

 

Very detailed report on a Zero Energy Home in Tucson, AZ.
Lots of detailed design information.  Should be very helpful in planning a hot climate ZEH or low energy home.
The CLAM Passive House

www.clam-ptreyes.org/clam-homes/passive-house
The CLAM house is an affordable  house built to Passive Institute standards at a cost that qualifies it as affordable housing.
Many innovative techniques were used to provide high insulation levels and very good air sealing without incurring high costs.
The video at the link provides quite a lot of detail on how the house was constructed -- it is well worth watching -- many good details. 
The 4 solar thermal collectors on the roof are designed to satisfy nearly all of the homes space and water heating needs.
Florida Zero Energy Test House

Florida Solar Energy Center

The Report (pdf)

 

 

A home constructed in a very difficult cooling climate (central Florida) to see if a combination of passive cooling techniques to reduce heat gain, high efficiency AC, efficient appliances, and a fairly large PV rig could produce near zero net energy use.  The home was  largely successful in meeting these goals.
Net energy use was only about 18% of a control house built to current codes. 
Pretty good detail on how much energy each feature saved.
My 2 cents would be that the passive cooling, high efficiency AC, and efficient appliances contributed 67% the of the savings, while adding little to the cost of the house.  The 4KW PV rig contributed the other 33% of the savings, and probably cost about $40,000.
 Extreme Efficiency -- How Low Can You Go?

Larry Schlussler, PhD

Full article on Larry's website...

 

Also as HP article: Home Power Magazine Issue 112,  April/May 2006

How to get articles from Home Power ...

This is an excellent article by Larry Schlussler, the owner of Sun Frost.  Larry describes his very efficient home in Arcatia, CA (4700 Deg Days).   It uses a combination of solar passive design, solar thermal water and space heating, efficient (and unique) appliances and bathroom fixtures, a grid-tied PV system, and a sane house size to achieve a home with ZERO net Carbon emissions.
The design also emphasizes some areas that don't get a lot of attention such as water conservation, composting toilets, and efficient cooking.  .
This home and the one just below are a pair -- near identical homes -- one with some extra features to make it net zero energy

Habitat For Humanity Energy Efficient Solar Home -- Denver

Denver Habitat Home (600K pdf)

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy05osti/36102.pdf

This Habitat for Humanity home cuts energy use by 60% by using a combination of improved insulation, infiltration control, passive solar gain, solar water heating, and a PV installation.  The improvement package was developed in a partnership between Habitat and NREL.
Habitat For Humanity Zero Energy Demonstration Home in Denver

Description of home:
http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy08osti/42591.pdf

Energy use report:
First two years of results for this home ...

 

This Habitat for Humanity home is similar in size to the one just above and is in the same area, but has additional features that result in further net energy use -- in fact, less than zero net energy use.

Added features include double stud R40 walls, R60 ceiling insulation with raised heel trusses, R30 floors, enhancements to solar water heating system, more attention to air tightness, more attention to glazing, and a PV system increased from 1.8 KW to 4 KW. 
The 2nd link shows that the natural gas uses for space heating and backup water heating is more than offset by the PV array generating excess electricity which is sent back to the grid -- so, net energy use is less than zero.
It would be nice to see how well each of the energy saving/generating features pay on their own.
Sun-Savvy Near Zero Energy Demonstration Home

Full details...

SunSavvy Homes website...

Sun-Savvy has managed to put together a normal looking, not too expensive near net zero energy use home that I think should appeal to many home buyers.

This is a fairly detailed report on a display home that Sun-Savvy put together for the Parade of Homes in St George Utah. The home uses a combination of good thermal envelope, efficient heating and cooling, efficient lighting and appliances, passive solar design, plus both solar thermal and solar electric systems to produce a near zero energy use home that appears to be practical and cost effective -- full details...

Zero Energy Prefab Home by Michelle Kaufmann

www.inhabitat.com/ ...

http://www.mklotus.com./

 

 

This attractive, 700 sqft, prefabricated home is said to be a zero energy home.  It includes a green roof, grey water recycling, and has a number of other "green" features.

Hopefully more detail on the design and actual performance numbers will be published later.

Zero Energy Home Built by Appalachian State University

 

App State Zero Energy Home

 

Zero energy home in Hickory, NC.  Solar passive heating and cooling,  solar hot water, high insulation levels, PV system, and geothermal heat pump make this zero energy home work. 
Built by students and staff from the Appalachian State University ... more
A Cold-Climate Case Study for Affordable Zero Energy Homes,
P. Norton and C. Christensen,
Building America Study Home

www.eere.energy.gov/ ... (pdf)

Performance Results after one year... (pdf)

A 1280 sqft Habitat for Humanity home done as a Building America study home. 
The design attempts to achieve net zero source energy use in an affordable package that is easy for home owners to live with.

It seems to me that the project gets wrapped around the "zero energy" axle a bit, but there are many things to like in the design.
Power House,
Bill Heigis, Hobie Guion
Fine Homebuilding issue 203, summer 2009

How to get articles from Fine Homebuilding ...

Fine Homebuilding article describing a net zero energy house that uses a combination of good thermal envelope, efficient windows, heat recovery ventilator, efficient lighting and appliances, and a PV powered geothermal heat pump to get very close to net zero energy use over a full year.
RuralZED - The Zero Carbon House Is Ready

http://www.ruralzed.com/

Detailed Description:
www.ruralzed.com/ ... (pdf)


On Inhabitat ...

 

This is a very carefully thought out design that meets the UK requirement for new homes to be zero carbon by 2016.
Many interesting features including prefab construction, flexible layouts, a base design for the near term that is affordable and yet can be upgraded over time to the full zero carbon requirement.  The houses are planned to fit into eco villages rather than thinking solely in terms of single family, detached designs.
The website is in work, but the "Full Brochure" pdf gives a pretty detailed rundown on the whole concept.
First UK Zero-Emission Home Unveiled

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6735715.stm

 

Another article with good refs at bottom:
www.nbsgreenconstruction.com/articles/lowZeroCarbon.asp

Another article:
http://business.timesonline.co.uk...

The UK is going to require that new homes be carbon emissions neutral by 2016.

This is one of the early cuts at such a home.

It will be interesting to see the designs that come out of this requirement.

Austin Program For Zero Energy Homes by 2015

www.ci.austin.tx.us/news/2007/zeh_program.htm

 

Note the links to four reports that provide detail on the program

Austin Texas sets out a program to make all new home construction "Zero Energy Capable" by 2015.  The program sets out a series of energy efficiency steps that will reduce new home energy consumption by 65% by 2015.   Energy efficiency requirements for new homes are increased each three years starting in 2006 with a specific set of energy efficiency features.

"Zero Energy Capable" means that energy use is sufficiently low that it could be completely offset by local generation -- e.g. a solar electric generation system.  
See the reports for more detail -- seems like a pretty well thought out plan.

State of Michigan's Zero Energy Home Competition
Christina Snyder

2002 Competition (pdf)
2004 Competition (pdf)

 

These two presentations provide the results of Michigan's Zero Energy Home competition.   These are well thought out designs for homes that use no net energy.  The 2002 presentation in particular has quite a bit of detail on all of the engineering and architectural techniques used to accomplish the zero energy goal.  Hints for taking the next steps beyond these designs are also provided.
Near Zero Energy Homes

http://www.ornl.gov/sci/btc/news.shtm

 

 

ASHRAE paper on Near Zero Energy Homes:

Near Zero Energy HomesashraeJan05nov9

The "Near Zero Energy" homes program promotes a home that is built to use little energy through good insulation levels and passive solar design.  The homes also include a grid tied PV system that offsets some of the homes electrical energy use.

In looking at the merits of these homes, one might want to weigh the cost vs benefit of the insulation/passive design and the PV installation separately, and decide on each separately.

Some aspects of the home described in the ASHRAE paper puzzle me.

BedZED -- Beddington Zero Energy Development

http://www.peabody.org.uk/pages/GetPage.aspx?id=179

 


 

 

BedZED is a zero energy development of about 100 "condos" in the London area.   A combination or super-insulation, passive solar, integrated photovoltaic generation, allows the development to be carbon neutral.  In addition, an emphasis is placed on efficient transportation via car sharing and other means.   These homes appear to be very well lighted and pleasant spaces.

Multi Family Buildings
Sunny Woods -- Zurich, Switzerland

Home Energy Magazine Article (pdf)

 

International Energy Agency Article:
Sunny Woods (pdf)

 

 

This amazing apartment building in Zurich consumes only about 1/10th the energy of a typical new construction building.  Each 2000 sqft unit consumes the equivalent of 80 gallons of oil per year for space heating, ventilation, and hot water!

Passive solar, R50 low thermal bridging walls, R70 roof, vacuum insulation in critical areas, large roof PV installation, solar thermal panels integrated in facade, and a very thoughtful overall design.

Small Homes

One of the best ways to reduce energy consumption in homes is to make them smaller.

Design Challenge: Help ClubRust work out a simple and cheap way to solar heat homes for low income families in norther Mexico...

ClubRust HomeClubRust builds several homes for low income families in norther Mexico each year.

They are looking for a way to solar heat and insulate these homes on a tight budget.

Lets hear your ideas! ...

 

Big Steps in Building: Change our Building Codes from Relative to Absolute,
Lloyd Alter, Treehugger

www.treehugger.com/files/2007/08/big_steps_in_bu_2.php

 

Good article in Treehugger on the trend in house size and resource use, and a major suggestion to change it.

With all the improvements in building codes since 1970, does the average house of today use more or less energy than the average house of 1970?
"A Tiny Home To Call Your Own"

Patricia Foreman and Andy Lee

Available at Amazon.com and other places

This is a really fine book on all aspects of "tiny homes".  It covers tiny home plans, lifestyles, Do-It-Yourself, clutter control, tiny home communities, and provides many stories from people who built a tiny home and live in it.

 

 


The Small House Book,
Jay Shafer, 2009
200 pages

Book is available from the usual places.

Jay's website...

 

This book is a mix of Jay's ideas on why small homes make sense (very convincing), a fairly detailed 10 page section on how to build one, and quite a few very nice examples of small homes he and others have done.
Some of the homes Jay builds are works of art -- very nicely done.  The homes range in size from about 80 sqft up to about 800 sqft -- some are on wheels.
Northwestern Tiny House Project

Full details on the Northwestern Tiny Home...

Northwestern Tiny House ProjectThis Northwestern University Tiny House is only 128 sf, but includes kitchen, bath, sleeping loft, ... AND its and the house is independent of all utilities -- it collects its own water, generates its own electricity, and treats its own sewage. 
It is well insulated and uses just a very small wood burner for heating.  Its also on wheels, so if you want a change in scene, you can just move.
The website actually provides a lot of construction and design detail -- thank you NW team for that!
Just a wealth of very nice ideas in this house.
Tiny Houses: or How to Get Away From It All,
Lester Walker

 

 

Another book on tiny homes that gets very enthusiastic reviews.
 

Amazon.com provides excerpts and table of contents as well as reviews.

Clothesline Tiny Homes...

 

 

clothesline tiny homesThis is a really nicely done tiny home (204 sf). Carrie and Shane are the owners, designers, builders and the people who live in it. They provide a lot of detail on how the design came about and why it has the layout and features it has. And, what its been like to live in for a year.clothesline tiny homes build

The house pictures sections provides a lot of detail on the design, and the video on the same page goes through a lot of the design features and rationale -- very nicely done.

There is also a blog. Some of the pictues in the blog show some of the construction.

The house is, of course, very energy efficient not only because its small, but because its well insulated and sealed. The home is built on a 5th wheel trailer, and can be moved from site to site. Plans are available.

Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/houses.htm

 

 

Some well thought out small homes.  Sizes range for less than 100 sqft up to about 500 sqft.  
All of them contain all the essentials.
Most can be transported on the highway  -- if you don't like the neighbors, you can just move.
Jay sells plans as well as completed homes.

The World of the Microhouse

Rev. Bill Kaysing

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

 

Mother Earth News, Issue 149,  April/May 1995

Quite an interesting article on building very small (as in 100 sqft) and very cheap (as in $1000).  The article provides quite a bit of construction detail and quite a lot on the philosophy and benefits of living small.

The Compact House Book,
Edited by Don Metz

 

These homes are the winners of a 1983 contest for architects.  Entries were required to be 1000 sqft or less.  Most feature passive solar and energy efficient designs -- many feature integrated greenhouses or sunspaces.
Entries are from a variety of climates and settings.
The best 33 of the over 400 entries are presented in the book.
The book is out of print, but widely available from the usual used book places.  192 pages, 1983

 

Rough Home Building

David S. Warren

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

 

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 143 April/May 1994

Nice article on building a small cabin/house by hand.  Not so much a solar home, but a solar home could be done in this way.

The $15,000 Solar Arcade

Architect Angus Wyman

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

 

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 74 Mar 1982

A small (800 sqft) earth sheltered, passive solar home using high quality construction.

Solargon

http://www.solargon-structures.com/

 

 

The Solargon is an octagon shaped enclosure made from SIP panels.  Can be used for small home/cabin/office...  Kind of like a thermally efficient Yurt.

20 ft and 30 ft models available. R28 walls, R42 ceilings, glazing arranged for good passive gain, and operable skylight for ventilation.
ICS makes regular SIP panels up to 8 inches thick with Polurethane insulation for R values approaching R60.

Off-Grid Living

http://www.judyofthewoods.net/off/homestead.html

 

Another cozy, low footprint UK home.

Judy provides lots of good information on simple building and living.

The Solar Trailer Home for Owner-Builders

Caroline Wareham

A “Thermal Envelope” Trailer

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 85 Jan/Feb 1984

Quite an interesting concept that  completely surrounds a trailer with a large sunspace.  The trailer provides ready made plumbing, kitchen etc. while the sunspace provides expanding living space and heat

The ECO-CABIN

www.theweebsite.com/ecocabin/thebook.htm

 

Starplates -- a similar scheme

www.strombergschickens.com

 

Plans for a cabin based in the shape of icosahedron.

"This shape was chosen for a dwelling because of its simplicity of design, economy, case of construction, great structural strength and maximum utilization of a minimal amount of materials. It has an advantage over 'pure' domes in that placement of windows, doors, and skylights is more conventional. Owing to its simplicity, most of the major components (foundation, floor, and struts) may be prefabricated. "

The web sit provides detailed instructions on how to build one.  Some thought could be given to incorporating some solar passive heating/cooling features. 

The Snail Shell System

 

http://www.n55.dk

 

 

Just could not pass this up.

I think I would need a window.