zero energy homes
In March 2010, Kentucky Highlands Investment Cooperation (KHIC) contacted MACED’s Energy Efficient Enterprises (E3) Team for assistance in the Zero Energy Homes (ZEH) program in Whitley County. The program was a result of $300,000 in funding that Whitley County received after the Commonwealth of Kentucky acquired a CDBG-R Formula Grant for over $7 million, and an additional $300,000 Rural Housing and Economic Development Grant that KHIC received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The ultimate goal of the ZEH program is to construct houses that generate enough energy from solar thermal and solar PV to power all of a home’s needs. Specific goals of the program are:
• To construct five zero-energy homes, in rural south Whitley County, Kentucky.
o The ZEH units would be approximately 1,300 sq ft or less in floor space.
o The ZEH construction costs would be approximately $180,000 (costs include the renewable energy source (solar) and many other green building techniques).
• To provide ZEH homeowners the capacity to sell excess solar generated electricity to the power grid thru the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as part of their Generation Partners Program.
• To provide training and experience to students of Harlan Kentucky’s Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (students engage in building core units that include components of the HVAC, kitchen/bath, and plumbing systems that will be installed in the ZEH units).
• To create hands-on models for contractors, designers, and homeowners who are interested in the renewable energy and/or energy efficient home market.
E3’s experience in net metering and solar installations, were key contributions to the Zero Energy Homes program. E3 was able to help:
• Facilitate discussions with Jellico Electric and Water Systems, distributor of TVA power, in order to set up ordinances to enable net metering.
• Provide helpful and specific information in site locations and solar orientations for the homes.
• Present educational information about the project to the students at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Harlan and to potential contractors.
Most useful to the ZEH program was the experience of MACED Energy Specialist, Joshua Bills, as a solar installer. Josh was able to design the arrays in tandem with architectural plans so that each site is able to maximize its solar generating power. Josh was subsequently helpful in preparing language for the request for proposals to solar installers bidding on the installations of systems on the first home. KHIC’s Director of Housing Tom Manning-Beaven explains that “Josh is an excellent resource, and was an integral part of the design team, providing invaluable insights into the design of the solar array and the solar hot water systems. He was a tremendous resource to other design team members, helping to analyze how the solar systems would interplay with the other systems in the ZEH unit.”
By August 1st 2011, a request for proposals went out to solar contractors for bids on the solar installations on the first home. Currently, the first house is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2012. The 3.6 kW solar electric systems installed on each Zero Energy Home unit are expected to generate an estimated 3,935 kWh per year in electricity and the 56 sq ft water heating systems are expected to generate an estimated 4.76 MMBtus per year of energy from solar thermal.