Zero Energy House

Saving the Planet - One House at a Time

Zero-Energy Cottage uses recyclable materials, solar power and innovative design to demonstrate self-sufficient living at the Sustainability Fair

Happiness is never having to pay another energy bill, according to sponsors of a novel demonstration home that opened to the public May 3 & 4, 2002, in the first annual National Park Service Sustainability Fair on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Combining energy-efficient construction design, techniques, materials and products, the Zero-Energy Cottage sets an example of just how self-sufficient a home can be. Its roof-mounted photoelectric solar panels provide virtually all of the electricity and hot water its occupants would need. Developed by an Atlanta-based builder, the two-bedroom, 1,700 square-foot cottage is said to be up to 90 percent more energy-efficient than an average home.

The demonstration home was disassembled and shipped from Atlanta to Washington to show how environmental and energy-efficient "sustainable" practices, many of them developed and used in our national park system, also can be put to good use in our homes and communities.

The Copper Development Association (CDA), provided all of the copper tubing for the home's hot- and cold-water plumbing, for its solar water-heating system, and for a geothermal heat pump that uses the temperature of the earth itself as part of its heating and cooling system.

Copper is also used in the home's electric wiring and in its sophisticated structured wiring communications system, which allows occupants to network home computers, distribute audio and video throughout and install home-automation features in the future.

The builder, Julius Poston of Certified Living Inc. in Woodstock, GA, created both the Zero-Energy Cottage and a second, larger energy-efficient demonstration home with grants from the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America program, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program. Other sponsors include AOL Time Warner, the American Lung Association and the Captain Planet Foundation, a non-profit environmental awareness organization founded for children by media mogul Ted Turner.

According to CDA spokesman Ken Geremia, the association was asked by Poston to support the project because copper materials are inherently energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

"Copper is the most recycled and recyclable building material you can use," says Geremia, "so sustainability demonstration projects like this are a perfect fit for us. The fact that this particular project is being done for such a good cause, on behalf of both the National Park Service and the Captain Planet Foundation, is a plus as far as CDA is concerned."

In tune with the project's earth-friendly goals, the Zero-Energy Cottage takes advantage of the constant temperatures found underground and the excellent heat transfer properties of copper tube to offset typical home energy costs. Its direct-exchange geothermal heat pump circulates refrigerant liquid through copper pipes buried beneath the property, then uses the earth's relative warmth in winter, and its cooler underground temperature in summer, to supplement the home's own heating and cooling system.

The house, valued at $200,000, will return to Atlanta to be sold, with all proceeds to benefit the Captain Planet Foundation,

The Copper Development Association (CDA) is the information, education and technical development arm of the copper, brass and bronze industry in the United States. Plumbing and mechanical information may be found in our Plumbing Section.