The Future is NEUTRAL
Lets talk about carbon neutral homes! What is a carbon neutral home and how can we achieve it? Read below to learn all about how you can make an impact through your custom home.
What is a carbon neutral home?
A carbon neutral home is a self-sustaining building that produces the same amount of carbon that it uses creating zero carbon emissions. Last year buildings accounted for about 40 percent of CO2 emissions, therefore it is necessary to try and mitigate the effects of climate change and one way to do this is to try and resolve issues within our built environment. Carbon neutral homes are a great way to tackle this issue, not only are they good for the environment they are also a great financial investment that will result in savings and a greener future. Although a higher upfront cost, these homes save on household services, electricity, and gas expenses because they are built airtight and well insulated, often with heat pumps that help heat and cool homes and low-e windows that absorb heat in winter months and minimize it in the summer.
How can it be achieved?
Achieving a carbon neutral home requires a close collaboration between the client, architect, and manufacturers to ensure that the appropriate materials, finishes and building systems are selected and implemented. There are a couple of key factors to consider that can help you achieve carbon neutrality.
Using Natural Resources
Solar panels are one of the cleanest sources of energy and provide you the opportunity to live in a completely carbon neutral home. They reduce your carbon footprint, don’t release any greenhouse gasses and are entirely self-sufficient. As a result, solar panels can lower your home’s emissions by about 80% compared to fossil fuels. Even on cloudy days panels can produce energy and you can save any excess power produced with battery storage and never have to purchase power from the grid. With solar your home is able to be independent from energy providers making you less prone to issues relating to bad weather, damage to power lines, price spikes, and outages.
Ground Source Heat Pumps
Ground Source Heat Pumps are used to cool and heat a building using pipes that transfer and store the temperature that is under the surface of the ground. It is believed to be extremely advantageous because it is available in most areas and an optimal year-round solution because of the constant ground temperature. Compared to using fuel, you can save up to 80% using geothermal energy source over conventional energy usage. Because there are fewer parts and require less space for hardware than conventional heating and cooling systems, geothermal is a great source of energy lasting beyond 25 to 30 years.
Making sure your home is airtight and uses high quality insulation in walls, ceiling and floors are one of the best ways to reduce the amount of energy that it expends. KCB usually addresses common issues found in homes by using SIP (Structural insulated panels), which improve air quality while decreasing energy costs and lowering labor time and needs. These panels can be used for ceilings, walls and floors and provide optimal structural support that is durable and energy-efficient. The panels range in thickness from 4 to 8 inches and the overall size can be
customized to fit the specific needs of a project.
Source: Acme Panel
Along with efficient insulation, using sustainable materials further helps your home become carbon neutral. Examples of these are triple glazed windows and low-e glass that reduce winter heat reduction and maximize it in the summer. Along with windows low-e appliances, fixtures, siding, and flooring finishes also reduces consumption of energy. When thinking about the finishes in your home keep in mind that materials such as bamboo, wooden shingles naturally break down and ultimately reduce landfill use. There are also options like recycled carpet that can now be used as siding.
Funding a carbon neutral home
When looking at the initial cost of a carbon neutral home compared to a regular home you can look at a 5% - 15% difference. However, with energy savings and Incentives, energy efficient homes begin to pay for themselves from the first day of completion. Many of the building components mentioned above have specific financial advantages when comparing them to conventional building practices. For example, installing solar panels allows you to receive a tax credit that can save you a third of the cost of the panels themselves, adding state and local rebates further cuts the overall cost, saving you up to half of the upfront costs of the solar panels. Producing more energy than what is needed in your home also allows you to sell it back to the grid allowing for a return on the initial investment. The payback period for solar is about 3 and a half years, the panels themselves have a lifespan of about 25 years allowing you to have extra credits and no cost on your electricity bill for most your home’s lifespan. There are also many advantages of using SIP panels. SIPS reduce construction time by about two to three weeks, require less supervision on site, and less specialized tools resulting in less labor cost compared to traditional construction. Along with the overall cost of production, SIP panels can reduce energy bills as much as 50 percent. These reductions help you save money and are a great way to invest in your home!
Be sure to look on our state and federal websites to learn more about rebates and incentives that are available for you.
Visit the ‘Contact Us’ page to talk to us about starting your custom carbon neutral home today!