Building My Net Zero Energy Home: The Back Story

| 6/5/2012 2:09:00 PM

Tags: Super Green Net Zero Energy Home, net zero energy, green homes, efficiency, passive solar, net zero, green building, Dan Chiras,

In January 2011, my home in east-central Missouri burned to the ground. The fire was caused by mice that had chewed the wires in the floor. The wires generated sparks that started the house on fire. 


This tragedy afforded me an opportunity to rebuild the house. After I was over the shock, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was going to build a net zero energy solar home. It would be as green as green could be.  

A net zero energy home, for those not familiar with the term, is a superefficient home equipped with enough renewable energy generating capacity to meet its needs and offset any fossil fuel like natural gas burned to power the home. So, bottom line, the house will produce as much – very likely more -- energy than it consumes each year.   

I hired my friend and colleague architect James Plagmann with whom I have worked on numerous solar homes. James is no ordinary architect, he’s a sustainable architect with a deep understanding of what it takes to design and build a green, passive solar, and super-efficient home.  

Although he’d never designed a net zero energy home, I knew it wouldn’t take him long to figure out what we needed to do. I teach course on the subject at The Evergreen Institute and have been working on this idea since the early 1990s.  This project is my third attempt to achieve net zero energy.  

7/20/2012 2:54:09 PM

Thanks for the article you gave me so many great choices in building my more efficient block home.GOD bless

Heather Hinckley
6/8/2012 6:23:39 PM

I was wondering what the cost was of those various arrays, etc that you had installed. Did you get federal and state tax deductions for the cost plus installation? Thanks for your article!

Lucy Mullis
6/7/2012 4:35:16 PM

Dan, The update for your new Net-Zero home is quite interesting. I am looking forward to your future updates as to what strategies and why you are using them as your building construction progresses for you Net-Zero home. Thanks.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

Next: June 2-3, 2018
Frederick, MD