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Testing set to start on ‘net-zero’ house

By: Don Loepp

September 28, 2012

Readers in the construction market — and anyone interested in sustainability — should read up on the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s net-zero test house in Gaithersburg, Md.

The 2,700-square-foot home (plus 1,500 square feet of unfinished basement) looks like a lot of the suburban McMansions built in the 1990s.

But this house is different. Thanks to state-of-the-art insulation and building products, plus a variety of solar panels, experts expect the home to produce as much energy as a family of four consumes over the course of a year.

Hence the name: the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility.

It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

The NIST website doesn’t have plastics-related details, although it states the home has double the typical insulation and a complete wrapping in an environmental film.

According to Emily Badger’s story in The Atlantic (“This House Consumes Less Net Energy Than Your Little Urban Studio”), the home costs $2.5 million, although it could probably be duplicated in a suburban neighborhood for $600,000 to $800,000 — not counting the cost of the lot.

Now that the home is finished, NIST will be testing it to see how it performs. 

Loepp is editor of  Plastics News and author of “The Plastics Blog.”