Zero Energy America: The “net-zero energy” concept brought to life
ZERO Energy America (ZEA) is a project aiming to construct four homes with net zero grid energy. The homes were constructed using the latest in green and energy-efficient products. The just-completed first phase of the Zero Energy America project in Tampa Bay is considered a benchmark of environmental stewardship and sustainable “green” building for the housing industry.
“Not only were we looking to build exceptionally efficient homes, we were able to provide a model for sustainable home construction and keep it upscale, fashion forward and real,” said Marc Rutenberg, president, Marc Rutenberg Homes, who led the ZEA project.
The project has at the heart the highly efficient air conditioning and energy technologies from LG Electronics.
To conquer the daunting task of cooling the large square footage of the Florida homes (ZEA 1 in Palm Harbor, Fla. is a 4,522-square-foot luxury home), the constructor turned to LG’s innovative variable refrigerant flow (VRF) solutions, constructing a system with a single outdoor unit and five indoor zones to help provide the optimal temperature control by zone and efficiency levels throughout the space.
“Not only were we looking to build exceptionally efficient homes, we were able to provide a model for sustainable home construction and keep it upscale, fashion-forward, and real,” says Marc Rutenberg.
The homes are a model for sustainable construction, explained Marc Rutenberg, who also drove the net zero capabilities with LG’s MonoX solar modules designed to exceed the demands of the Zero Energy America home energy requirements. LG’s technologically advanced Photovoltaic module, Mono X boasts the highest power output among all LG modules in its class.
While conventional mono products run at 240W, advanced units operate at 260W. With a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index of negative 12, the NET meter installed by Duke Energy displayed energy returning to the grid when activated at the grueling end of a Florida summer, where average summer temperatures reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 90-plus-percent humidity.
The four sites that make up the Zero Energy America project are located in the Tampa Bay area in Central Florida. ZEA 1 and 2, which represent phase 1 of the project and are also referred to as the ZEA Castaway III model, are located in Palm Harbor. ZEA 3 is located in Odessa, Fla., while ZEA 4 is located in Trinity, Fla. In addition to integrating LG’s air conditioning and energy solutions into their designs, the homes feature LG ENERGY STAR qualified consumer electronics products, including some of the industry’s most efficient LED TVs.
Due in part to the use of LG’s solar panels, VRF systems and ENERGY STAR TVs, the Zero Energy America homes are designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program “LEED for Homes” Platinum certification, as well as other green building standards set by the National Association of Home Builders’ National Green Building Standard and the Florida Green Building Coalition.