Net-zero is a term that many people likely haven’t heard before, at least not until recently. It seems to have entered the building and green living lexicon almost overnight, and yet now it has become one of the hottest buzzwords in environmentally conscious building techniques.
Simply put, a net-zero home or building is one that produces as much energy as it consumes, thus negating (or at least evening out) its environmental impact from an energy usage standpoint. The U.S. Department of Energy officially defines a net-zero building as one “that is so energy efficient that a renewable energy system can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption.” The Dept. of Energy says that new homes hoping to compete for this designation must start off by being at least 40 to 50 percent more energy efficient than a typical new home.
Property owners and communities across the country (and around the globe) are jumping on the net-zero bandwagon, and making big announcements when and if they do manage to achieve that status, which often proves to be much more of a challenge than initially expected. Just this month, one couple claimed bragging rights after building what they claim is the first net-zero home in northwest Ohio.
For property owners, the benefits of achieving net-zero status or as close to that as possible are both environmental and financial.
Generally speaking, the process of how a home achieves net-zero status usually works like this: the structure will produce solar energy during the day, sending excess back “onto the grid” to make up for any energy the building may require at night.
One of the main ways property owners can help ensure their property can reach this state is by making the balance more reasonable. That is, by reducing the amount of energy a property consumes, you in turn reduce the amount of energy it must produce in order to offset that usage. In other words, the first step in achieving an energy usage/generation balance is to cut your consumption in any possible way.
Whether a property owner is striving for that elite and often elusive net-zero status or simply wants to go green and save money on utility bills, an important part of their strategy should be to carefully study their current energy usage and investigate ways to decrease their energy demands.
Like many other net-zero or highly energy efficient properties, the net-zero home in Ohio relies upon spray foam materials to help cut energy usage. The homeowners insisted upon having foam insulation sprayed in the attic, basement and walls of the house. It is likely that they also reinforced their home’s roof with spray foam roofing materials.
Most property owners won’t be willing to invest the energy or upfront cost necessary to get their property to the net-zero level, so that goal probably isn’t realistic for many. However, almost every property owner can take steps to make their homes or businesses more energy efficient, thus making it more comfortable, less vulnerable to weather and much more affordable to maintain.
One of the easiest and most effective strategies to help reduce energy usage on any type of home or building is to reinforce the exterior layer of the building to make it more airtight and eliminate the possibility or leaks and drafts. This helps ensure that the elements stay out, while costly heating and air conditioning stays in. This can often allow property owners to dramatically cut their utility bills. (As a bonus, it can also help prevent property damage caused by wind or rain.)
Spray foam can be used as an insulation material when applied inside walls and ceilings. It is especially useful in tight spaces or hard-to-reach areas because of its ability to expand and fill cracks and crevices. At the top of the property, spray foam roofing and coatings can be used to greatly strengthen and reinforce an existing roof, or establish a strong surface for a new roof.
The spray foam material creates a strong, solid membrane that makes for a very durable and weather-resistant roofing surface. A roof sprayer can be a valuable asset to a contractor who needs to complete these types of spray foam roofing projects quickly. This type of spray foam equipment enables the work to be done more efficiently, while also eliminating waste and downtime.
While spray foam alone won’t get a property into the net-zero category, it can definitely go a long way in helping to drastically cut energy usage, which is something all property owners would hope to achieve.
Check out our online store at Intech Equipment & Supply for the best selection of roof sprayers and other spray foam equipment.