The project, known as the ROSE Cottage Project, is the first to be undertaken using the “ROSE Construction Method” plan for developing zero net energy homes. It is featured on the RCMZeroEnergy.com website www.RCMZeroEnergy.com and Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RCMZeroEnergy to share the knowledge and explain reasons behind the approach. The purpose of both are to educate owners, designers, builders, and developers to the how’s and why’s of undertaking high performance residential construction that starts with high performance enclosure design and ends with renewable energy technologies. If anything is certain, it is the uncertainty of the energy markets over the past 40+ years, and that is likely to continue. Assumptions inevitably prove to be wrong on energy pricing. There has to be reasons to design and build high performance projects like this other than the pure economics of energy pricing, because you have to assume too much. The recent advances in natural gas and crude oil fracking in the United States may change the energy landscape once again, as it relates the commodity pricing of fuel and electricity. We could be on the cusp of a prolonged period of relatively “cheap” energy again for some markets, or maybe not. So, unless you are automatically stuck with using propane, oil or grid electricity, we all have to discover the inherit benefits of sustainable, energy efficient living that go past the simple return on investment (ROI), because the economic benefits alone can change as fast as the stock market.
The owner developed this project to demonstrate that there are in fact many aspects of a zero net energy or near zero net energy project approach that have far reaching benefits beyond ROI. Our experience shows that without ever reaching into our renewable power bag of tricks, or double wall construction, to get to net zero; below 60 on the HERS index is readily achievable on just about any site with just about any style home with the right approach to enclosure design regarding air tightness, thermal performance, and efficient use of energy. Sixty (60) is really the starting point that any homeowner should ask for and any builder should strive for; however, getting there will take a great deal of education to the how’s and why’s of enclosure construction. Most renewable energy options that we currently have at our disposal can be planned for later inclusion into a project and can be economically added to a project at a later date based upon the cost of energy, or the owner’s ability to fund the extra costs of eliminating their fuel supply. Saying it another way, do it for the ROI when energy prices rise, or do it when you can afford it, or both. For these reasons, and many more that we hope to continue to demonstrate on the website: do it now if you can afford to, and hopefully do it later if you can’t.
We don’t have all the answers and there is no ONE way to accomplish the end goals. But the more high performance projects that are designed and built; the greater the knowledge base; the easier it will be; and the lower it will cost for everyone. The market will change. Construction practices will change. Owners will purchase a better product if it is available. We will be more efficient and we will use fewer resources. There is no downside to moving the ball forward. We have a ball and intend to head to the next hash mark.