After building his own home, Greenhill Contracting president, Anthony Aebi, reflected on the way homes are built in the U.S., as well as the lack of higher code standards. His background in Swiss homebuilding, and a desire to build more durably, eventually led him to the use of Insulated Concrete Forms ("ICF") in all exterior walls of the homes he built. The noticeable improvement in home performance set in motion a quest towards zero-energy homes.
"[Since 2007 our] team has worked tirelessly to reduce the construction costs associated with high-performance homes, including developing continuous improvements...with the use of ICFs, spray foam thermal, and air-control strategies," says Aebi.
Photos: Amy Dooley
While there are no actual building code standards directed towards disaster resilience in the Esopus, New York area, homeowners automatically receive the benefits of durability because of the reinforcements ICFs provide. In addition, this type of construction allows a home to maintain indoor temperatures through multi-day power outages. Aebi confesses that while some buyers think the durability is “cool” most are much happier just knowing their home was designed using solid construction techniques.
And as for the actual energy-efficiency of the homes? "The last 15 homes we have built, homeowners are [paying] no electric bills," says Aebi. In fact, out of the 34 total Zero Energy Ready Homes Greenhill Contracting has constructed, there are only five homeowners paying any type of electric bill. "[We are proving] the DOE Zero Energy Ready threshold can be achieved without any significant costs over a code-built home."
Visit EEBA's education center to learn more about the Building Science for Cost Effective Approaches to Zero Energy Homes.