The past few months have been busy here at Deltec Homes.
In case you haven’t met us, we manufacture highly efficient, durable, hurricane-resistant and round homes, right here in Asheville. We build them in our factory off of Emma Road and ship them all over the world, especially to extreme environments such as hurricane zones. Durability and energy efficiency have always been our game, and this year, we’re upping it, with the launch of our new “Renew Collection” of high performance and net-zero home designs.
What is a net-zero home, anyway? It’s a term that’s gaining ground in green building. The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines a net-zero home as “a home with greatly reduced energy needs through efficiency gains such that the balance of energy needs can be supplied through renewable technologies.”
I like to define that as a really efficient home that you power with solar energy.
Completely powering a building with renewable energy is not new: people have been doing it for decades. But a home that produces all of its own energy is dream whose demand is growing—and whose costs, thanks to dropping solar costs and refined energy efficient design practices, is also dropping.
We know that it has never been more affordable to build a net-zero home, and our mission is to push the concept of extremely energy efficient homes, easily powered by renewable energy, into the mainstream, in Western North Carolina and elsewhere.
Design Features of High Performance and Net-Zero Homes
What sets a net-zero home apart is not (just) its solar panels, but its energy efficiency. The design and structure of a building itself can drastically reduce heating and cooling costs–that’s a high performance home. A net-zero home reduces it’s energy demand, often by up to 2/3rds when compared to a conventional home, before adding renewable energy. The design features we put into our net-zero home designs include:
Super-Insulation and Exceptional Air-Tightness: Design features like double-stud wall panels and super tall raised heel trusses, we’re aim R-values well above and beyond code minimums. The close-fitting nature of panelized construction, along with detailed air-sealing, make the home extremely air-tight. Simple shapes make energy efficient detailing easier.
A double-stud wall panel being built in our plant: featuring two layers of 2×4 studs for a wall twice as thick as code minimum–and able to achieve more than twice the R-value. The black tape being applied is self-expanding foam gasket, applied between the stud framing and our plywood sheathing to up the air-tightness of each wall panel.
Passive Solar Design: South-facing window, properly sized overhangs, and thermal mass feature prominently into our six home designs. We use high solar heat gain coating on south-facing windows, and low heat gain coatings everywhere else, especially on east and west facing windows, which we limit.
Smart System Design: A high performance home uses a high efficiency heating and cooling system that has been properly designed for the home, and that is installed and commissioned to perform at its best. Homes layouts aim to keep mechanical equipment and duct work inside the conditioned volume of the home.
And last, but not least, Renewable Energy, such as solar thermal systems for heating water, and solar electric panels, allow the very small energy footprint of a high-performance home to be powered much more affordably from clean energy, turning that home, at last, into a net-zero home.
Our Renew Collection features six homes designs, to be built in our factory using our precision-built process and shipped to a job-site for finishing, whether in Western North Carolina or beyond. True to form, many of them feature our classic round shapes–but we are also offering a handful of downright rectangular designs, ranging from traditional to very modern.
When building a new house, it just makes sense to make that home as energy efficient and durable as we can. By putting some of our most advanced energy efficient features into our Renew Collection, we are aiming to make extremely energy efficient and net-zero homes the norm of new home building.
–Leigha Dickens, Green Building Coordinator, Deltec Homes