zero energy idea house Photo: Estately

How do you build a house that uses net zero energy? Mike Lubliner of Washington State University’s Extension Energy Program decided to find out. Using innovative sustainable design, he built the Zero Energy Idea House overlooking Lake Sammamish. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home was listed last week for $1.5 million, and Lubliner estimates that its total energy bills will come to less than $500 a year. 

Eco-friendly homes are all the rage in the Seattle area, and many designers are using their skills to build green in a whole new way. One way Lubliner saved time, labor and waste was by building the Zero Energy Idea House with structural insulated panels (SIPs). SIPs combine framing, insulation and exterior sheathing in one system that can be used for walls, floors over crawl spaces and even roofing. The SIPs were custom manufactured for the project.

The home also has a gas-powered hydronic in-floor radiant heating system, as well as energy-efficient lighting and windows and appliances that maximize energy use. Its domestic hot water is heated by the sun, and its electrical needs are met by rooftop solar panels.

Is this the future of homebuilding? Maybe — the Zero Energy Idea House is so uniquely efficient that the US Department of Energy has adopted the project as a case study for its Building America program. And we have to admit we like the idea of walking through an energy-efficient home that’s doing its part to slow the effects of global warming.

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