Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Test House to Use Net-Zero Energy

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Test House to Use Net-Zero Energy

Article excerpt

In September, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) unveiled a new laboratory designed to demonstrate that a typical-looking suburban home for a family of four can generate as much energy as it uses in a year. The house has been built to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum standards--the highest standard for sustainable structures. The two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility incorporates energy-efficient construction and appliances, as well as energy-generating technologies such as solar water heating and solar photovoltaic systems.

"Results from this lab will show if net-zero home design and technologies are ready for a neighborhood near you," said NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. "It will also allow development of new design standards and test methods for emerging energy-efficient technologies and, we hope, speed their adoption."

For the first year of its operation, the lab will be used to demonstrate netzero energy usage. NIST researchers will use computer software and mechanical controls to simulate the activities of a family of four living in an energy-efficient home. No actual humans will be allowed to enter the house during this time so that researchers can monitor how the house performs, but lights will turn on and off at specified times, hot water and appliances will run--and small devices will emit heat and humidity just as people would. …

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