Zero Emissions Homes

Why Zero Emissions

In our efforts to transition from fossil fuels we can make a local difference by eliminating emissions from our houses, apartments and rentals.

To keep our homes comfortable, we need heating in the winter months and cooling in the summer months.  Both make energy demands which show up on our utility bills.

Thinking of our homes as a box with heat going in and heat going out, a balance between makes them comfortable.

If heat is leaving faster than it’s going in it’ll get colder and vice versa. The difference is made up by furnaces in the winter and some type of air conditioning in the summer.

So we have to look at heat losses and gains from the the outside and energy demands on the inside (mostly natural gas and electricity).

One of these, natural gas, immediately generates greenhouse gasses, on site, while the other, electricity is gradually being generated by renewable resources, solar and wind. That means getting rid of natural gas lines and thus saving, by some estimates, as much as $15k in utility installation costs.

Ideally we would like heat losses to be minimized so we don’t have to buy more utilities to stay warm. That means more insulation in the walls, ceilings and windows. It also means curbing the drafts that exchange air and heat, with proper air ventilation.

Ideally, we would like to use the most efficient heat sources and cooling to minimize those utility bills. That means using heat pumps for heating, cooling, hot water and clothes driers. That means induction stoves for cooking that don’t heat up the kitchen or discharge unhealthy combustion products from burning gas. They’re faster than gas too!

This is where the US Department of Energy ZERH standards come in. It describes how builders can implement additional but relatively inexpensive practices in construction and utility provisions.  With incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act, homeowners and contractors can get significant relief for these costs. Longer term homeowners get a big benefit in reduced utility bills!

Some estimates indicate that over 50 years, the probable lifetime of a home, for every 3000 homes built to these standards we will save 1.38 million tonnes in equivalent carbon dioxide emissions!

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Next Steps

New Mexico cities and counties can accelerate the process to build ‘green’ by adopting the zero emissions performance standards embraced in IECC, Appendix RC3!

This document can become an ordinance suspending “SOP” (standard operating procedure, building to code minimum) homes and mandating “”SAP” sustainable action plans to meet zero emissions standards.

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