In my view, a Green Home must have Zero-Energy consumption, or at least be VERY energy-efficient. It must be bright, spacious, well built, but most important, it must be PRACTICAL and AFFORDABLE to most people looking to build a house.

A lot of green building ideas used in this solar home project will be borrowed from the Boston Solar Home, that is part of the 2009 Solar Decathlon competition. It will have a cool flat roofing membrane with roof-integrated PV solar panels and a standing seam metal roof on the facade.

Designing a solar home (zero energy):

One major obstacle in the adoption of green / sustainable technologies and renewable energy today is the cost. Building out of 100% green materials is great, but it is highly impractical and costly, and most folks will opt for less expensive, non-green products. This is a sad truth that green and sustainable construction is still aimed at early adopters, and the situation will not change until green products will be within 10% price difference vs.regular products, or they will offer tremendous energy-saving advantages at a still relatively small premium.
Green and renewable technologies are haunted by the “WalMart” effect, and most people will usually choose the inexpensive “alternative” vs. the premium product.

Do you need examples? Asphalt shingle roofs consist mainly of oil/bitumen based by-products, and when you dispose of them, they go to our landfills and it takes 400 years for them to degrade. Yet, they cost 1/3 of the price of a permanent metal roof, and therefore are the prime choice for 98-99% of homeowners. Many environmentally-conscious folks also opt for an asphalt roof, for various reasons, such as mere lack of knowledge about metal roofs, visual and aesthetic preferences, etc. But most often it is the price tag associated with a metal roof that slows down their adoption.

Examples of sustainable / green home construction:

Boston solar decathlon - green home construction.

The green home above is a 2009 Solar Decathlon house built by Team Boston. You can read our review of construction of this green home, which took place at Tufts University in the summer / fall 2009 – http://www.greensolarcafe.com/green-construction/boston-solar-decathlon-home-with-ib-flat-roof/

We actively participated in the building of this house, and installed a flat roof, which was generously donated by IB Roof Systems.

This solar home incorporates some of the most advanced green building materials and construction methods. Super insulated walls, a 6.8 KW Solar PV Roof, water collection and recycling system, and liquid-filled solar thermal windows (Trumb wall), are just some of the green / sustainable building technologies used in the 2009 Boston Solar Home.

Boston Solar home was on display at the 2009 Solar Decathlon competition in Washington DC, and took a respectable 13th place out of more than 20 similar green / solar home projects from all over the world, and with very limited funding, volunteer work of students and faculty from Tufts and BAC (Boston Architecture College).  This result is very impressive, considering enormous funding of Team Germany’s solar home, as well as many other competing green home designs – check out our review of 2009 Solar Decathlon which I participated in October 2009.