PALO ALTA, Calif., and PATERSON, N.J. - New energy-efficient solar homes that use nearly zero net energy over the course of a year have opened in California and New Jersey.

In California, Clarum Homes offered preview tours of four demonstration homes in Borrego Springs, a desert location about 85 miles northeast of San Diego. The homes are designed to use 90 percent less energy than conventional homes and employ a variety of highly insulating wall systems and high-efficiency cooling systems. All of the homes feature 3.2-kilowatt solar power systems, instantaneous water heaters, and exterior shade screens, and three of the homes are equipped with under-floor radiant heating.

The project was developed through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Building America Program, ConSol, and the Davis Energy Group. The homes will be tested for energy efficiency continuously over the next year and the information will be shared with other builders, manufacturers, and municipalities throughout the country.

In New Jersey, BASF Corp. hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate its new Near-Zero Energy Home in Paterson. The demonstration home is designed to be 80 percent more energy efficient than conventionally built homes and is a prototype for the U.S. Green Building Council's newly launched rating system for homes. The home combines energy efficient design and radiant floor heating with 2.5 kilowatts of Ovonic Solar photovoltaic laminates that are bonded to the roof and a 4-kilowatt solar thermal system installed underneath the south roof.

As one of the world's largest chemical companies, BASF contributed a number of products to the demonstration home, including foam insulation and a heat-reflective coating for the home's metal roof.

Publication date: 05/15/2006