Until recently, passive houses, with their net zero expenditure of energy, were considered the ultimate form of green building. However, in the past few years, some housing developers have been taking the concept even further. So-called E-plus (energy positive) homes actually produce more energy than they consume through a combination of innovative insulation and solar power methods. Notable examples include the E-plus Green Home outside Seoul, designed by Unsangdong Architects Corporation and covered by verdant rooftop gardens, and Urbanica's four E-plus townhouses in Roxbury, MA, unveiled in 2013. Following suit, as of October 2014, Northern Virginia has its own example of an energy-positive home, the NOVA e-plus Home in Springfield.
In order to generate over 12 megawatts of excess energy per year, the NOVA e-plus Home employs a strategy of combined "extreme energy conservation" and "extreme energy generation". While the house has a relatively traditional external appearance, a departure from the usual modern design for energy positive homes, it is composed of numerous highly engineered components that work together to keep its energy use as low as possible. Solar panels are placed out of sight on the roof. The walls, doors and windows are highly insulated and sealed against the cold, and a geothermal furnace warms water using natural energy. The home is on its way to gaining LEED Platinum status, and the eventual owners will be paid for the energy their home provides to other structures in the area.
For now, energy positive technology remains out of reach for the average citizen, but in the future it may become standard for all new houses. In the meantime, have your home inspected for problems that may be causing energy to be lost with an energy audit from Alban. To schedule your audit, call us at 301-662-6565.