NREL and Colorado Housing Agency Build Modular Affordable Zero Energy Housing Units | Home Design Find

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NREL and Colorado Housing Agency Build Modular Affordable Zero Energy Housing Units

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Where better than Colorado to test zero energy affordable housing? Not only does the state gets a whopping 70% of its electricity from coal, but the technical solution to reducing those greenhouse gases is right there in Boulder.

The  National Renewable Energy Lab at Boulder provided energy efficient design assistance and worked with a local modular builder to upgrade the energy efficiency of these homes so they need to use no fossil fuel.

The Boulder County Housing Authority has broken ground on building affordable  zero energy housing. It is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes.

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At their Paradigm Pilot Project in Boulder, that electricity supply comes from the two kinds of solar panels on the roof. On the left are the hot water heating units. The project makes both electricity and hot water with solar power. A  geothermal heat exchange system also  supplies a head start on the heating and cooling, because in-ground temperatures never vary much from 55 degrees.

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The buildings will also make use of a thermal chimney, which is a kind of a passive solar design which relies on the natural updraft of hot air through the top of the structure and cool air drawn in from the basement and lower-level windows. The clerestory windows at the top will have operable awnings tied into a mechanical system.

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The Housing  Authority worked with modular builders All American Homes of Colorado to find a way to increase insulation in walls to R30 and in attics to just under R50 and use insulated concrete foundations. In addition, the ceiling and floor truss materials came from waste lumber, the landscaping is partially drought-tolerant, the plumbing fixtures are low-flow and water efficient, and the appliances are Energy Star.

The goal is to achieve the most affordable, cost-effective, quality designed homes while testing modular assembly. The NREL will monitor the performance, and we will see how well they achieved the goal in a year.

Images: Boulder County
Source: Jetson Green
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