LAS VEGAS - Attendees at the 2004 International Builders' Show here had the opportunity to tour a Zero Energy Home designed to produce as much electricity as it uses over the course of a year.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) partnered with Pardee Homes and energy consultant ConSol to introduce the Zero Energy Home concept, which was implemented in a single-family custom home at the Nevada Trails master-planned community.

According to NREL, a Zero Energy Home combines renewable energy technologies with advanced energy-efficient construction. Like almost all homes, a Zero Energy Home is connected to the utility grid. Because the home produces approximately as much energy as it consumes during a year, it is considered to achieve "net zero" energy consumption.

Called the Ultimate Family Home, the 5,300-square-foot custom home was built by Pardee Homes and designed by Bassenian/Lagoni Architects. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) selected it to serve as a show home for its annual builders' convention.

"The Ultimate Family Home shows that energy efficiency and solar energy can be incorporated into attractive homes that come with all of the features homebuyers are looking for," said Tim Merrigan, Zero Energy Homes program manager at NREL.

The location of the 2004 show - Las Vegas - provided an ideal location for building a solar-powered home. Solar cells on the rooftop provide electricity, and a solar hot water system heats the home's water. A high-efficiency air conditioning system combined with good insulation, air duct sealing, and advanced windows keeps the home comfortable, says NREL. The home is designed to use 90 percent less energy than a similar home built strictly to code.

"The Ultimate Family Home combines comfort and value with environmental sensitivity and real, measurable savings," commented Rob Hammon of ConSol.

DOE started the Zero Energy Homes initiative to bring the latest research out of its national laboratories and into homes. NREL scientists and engineers are working with four teams to introduce the Zero Energy Homes concept into the single-family, new-home construction industry. In addition to ConSol (Stockton, Calif.), the teams include Davis Energy Group (Davis, Calif.), NAHB Research Center (Upper Marlboro, Md.), and Steven Winter Associates (Norwalk, Conn.).

Other Zero Energy Homes projects in the region include Clarum Homes' Vista Montana community in Watsonville, Calif.; Morrison Homes' Lakeside community in Elk Grove, Calif.; and the Armory Park del Sol neighborhood, built by John Wesley Miller Companies in Tucson, Ariz.

Publication date: 02/02/2004