Energy Efficiency and The New American Home

A collaboration between government and private organizations teamed up on the creation of a new project home desiged to greatly reduce energy consumption. This is part of an effort to change the way homes are built in the United States, where buildings are responsible for more than half the country’s energy consumption.

Golden, Colorado – January 27, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Builder Magazine, the National Council for the Housing Industry, Merlin Contracting, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building Technologies Program, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Integrated Building and Construction Solutions (IBACOS) have collaborated to design and build The New American Home as a showcase for energy efficiency at the International Builders Show. The New American Home is an annual project co-sponsored by the NAHB National Council of the Housing Industry and Builder Magazine. Merlin Contracting of Las Vegas, Nevada, built this year’s home in the Sahara Lake community, just west of downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. According to Merlin Contracting, to design and build this energy-efficient and attractive home, the home’s architect, Lex van Straten, consulted with Building America’s IBACOS Consortium to develop the energy features of the home. Building America is a residential system research program sponsored by the DOE Building Technologies Program with technical support from NREL, the IBACOS Consortium, and other Building America teams. This home will be used for several IBACOS research projects. The 2004 New American Home has been designed to reach a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score of 90, a score well above the minimum Energy Star rating requirement of 86. According to Ren Anderson, project leader for Building America residential research at NREL, the home effectively integrates a number of high-performance energy systems. “This year’s design has successfully combined a number of features appropriate to a hot-dry climate to achieve a HERS score that represents a 50 percent reduction in space conditioning and hot-water energy use,” said Anderson. “This is a significant step toward DOE’s long-term goal of reducing overall residential energy use by 70 percent.” Specific technologies used in this home include a foundation and above-ground exterior walls built of insulated concrete forms, windows that limit solar heat gain, a roof system built with structural insulated panels (SIPs), a heat-recovery ventilator for the ventilation system, and superior efficiency air-conditioning units. The concrete forms provide excellent insulation for the basement. SIPs provide the roof system with good insulation and air tightness. The heat-recovery ventilator ensures good indoor-air quality in an efficient manner by tempering incoming hot outdoor air with cooler indoor air. The air conditioning units have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) between 14.7 and 16 and provide excellent cooling capacity, while using minimal energy. As a result of these improvements and advanced technologies, the home will use 50 percent less energy for space heating, cooling, and hot water than a standard home. The 5,000-square-foot home includes a pool that overlooks Nevada’s Sahara Lake. Special measures will be taken to isolate the pool from the adjacent living space. Other aesthetic features include a loft design that offers versatility for interior design and layout options.
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