Experts Say ‘Net Zero’ Energy House Possible in the North

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Building experts say a “Net Zero” energy house: a home that renewably generates all its own heat and power, is possible in the north.  Workshops happening this month around the state are sharing construction techniques, like two-foot thick walls, and R-90 ceilings key to the green standard.  The sessions, including one in Fairbanks last week, are taught by Canadian contractors pursuing the challenge.  Peter Amerongen, of Edmonton, Alberta says Net Zero in the north requires specialized design.

Amerongen says a highly insulated south facing house, with efficient appliances and lighting can collect enough solar energy to cover heating and electricity.  That wouldn’t seem possible in Fairbanks, but local contractor Thorsten Chlupp has developed solutions to get around the darkest coldest part of the winter.

Chlupp says his home uses a 5,000-gallon water tank to store 5 million BTU’s of solar heat. His only other heat source is a masonry wood stove, but he says he hasn’t fired it up since mid February. The addition of photo voltaic panels for electricity, will make Chlupp’s home fossil fuel free.  Chlupp’s latest project is scaling up the technology for a 25,000 foot warehouse. The biggest challenge of Net Zero construction is up front cost, but that’s being leveraged by rising energy prices.

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