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Midwest Pushes for More Net Zero Homes

The City of Milwaukee has issued a Request for Proposals for All-Electric, Affordable Net-Zero Energy Homes. The City is seeking qualified teams to design and build net-zero energy homes using Advanced Building Construction (ABC) methods, such as modular, panelized, or other methods. In addition to building model homes that will be sold to the public (one single family and one duplex), the project aims to also attract an ABC manufacturer to the city of Milwaukee. This project supports the City’s climate, affordable housing, economic development, and equity goals. Background information is available here.

The full RFP is available at Proposals are due Apr 18th 2023, 2:00 PM CDT. Please see the RFP for the full schedule. The RFP also includes a unique opportunity to help developers, architects, ABC manufacturers, and general contractors form teams to submit joint proposals.

Designing and building a net-zero energy home using Advanced Building Construction (ABC) methods requires a comprehensive approach that takes into account various factors. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Site selection: The first step in designing a net-zero energy home is to select an appropriate site. The site should be oriented to maximize exposure to the sun and minimize exposure to wind, which can impact heating and cooling needs. The site should also be free from obstructions that could shade solar panels or other renewable energy systems.

  2. Building orientation: Once the site is selected, the building should be oriented to optimize passive solar gain. This means that the home's windows and roof should face south in the Northern Hemisphere and north in the Southern Hemisphere to maximize exposure to the sun. The building's shape and design should also be optimized to reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.

  3. Energy-efficient building envelope: An energy-efficient building envelope is critical in a net-zero energy home. This includes insulation, air sealing, and high-performance windows and doors. Advanced building construction methods, such as modular or panelized construction, can help ensure a tight and well-insulated envelope.

  4. Renewable energy systems: A net-zero energy home requires a renewable energy system to generate the energy needed to offset the home's energy consumption. The most common systems are solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, but wind turbines or geothermal systems can also be used. The size and type of renewable energy system will depend on the home's energy needs and the site's renewable energy potential.

  5. Energy-efficient HVAC systems: A net-zero energy home should use energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that are appropriately sized for the home. This may include a ground-source heat pump, which can provide both heating and cooling.

  6. Energy-efficient appliances and lighting: To minimize energy consumption, a net-zero energy home should use energy-efficient appliances and lighting. Energy Star-rated appliances and LED lighting are good choices.

  7. Water conservation: A net-zero energy home should also include water-conserving fixtures and appliances, such as low-flow toilets and showerheads, and a rainwater harvesting system to reduce reliance on municipal water supplies.

In summary, designing and building a net-zero energy home using advanced building construction methods requires a holistic approach that considers site selection, building orientation, energy-efficient building envelope, renewable energy systems, energy-efficient HVAC systems, energy-efficient appliances and lighting, and water conservation measures.

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