Scientists Study Energy Use to Construct Net Zero Homes in the Future

March 5, 2011

S & A Homes ehomeA project in Pittsburgh by S&A Homes, will allow a local building sciences firm, IBACOS, to study energy use and energy efficiency in a proposed net zero home. 

The Best Practices Research Alliance (BPRA) Lab Home will study the energy use of the four bedroom home for the next three years, monitoring the HVAC system and building practices. It is hoped that the knowledge gained will make net zero a more affordable option for mainstream builders.

“S&A has been dedicated to innovations over the last 20 years and the lab home is simply the next step in the evolution towards achieving the ultimate in energy efficient homes,” said Chris Schoonmaker, Vice President of Sales at S&A Homes, “We also understand that no matter how much a home buyer wants to save on energy bills or help the environment, homes must be affordable, stylish and in the right location.”

The Lab Home features a horizontal loop ground source heat pump system, 8″ thick exterior walls with R-40 insulation, and solar panels that will earn money during the summer, helping to offset the winter energy use.

S & A eHomeS&A Homes has a history of building “E-Homes,” efficient, environmentally friendly houses, in the Pittsburgh area. They include features such as 2×6 exterior construction, ultra low-e windows, 90% CFL lighting, high performance HVAC systems and recycled materials. 

Energy bills for an E-home average $150 less than for a similarly sized 10 year old home with standard construction. “With lessons learned from the Lab Home, we hope home buyers everywhere will have the ability to move beyond our current E-Home standards to zero-energy lifestyles,” said Schoonmaker.

Photos of E-Home courtesy of S&A Homes.



Dawn Killough

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon.