Jeff Bender of Bender Engineering and Construction has set out to build the most energy efficient home in Gray’s Crossing. His goal is to build a Net Zero Home. Jeff is general contractor, but his resume doesn’t stop there. He is a professional mechanical engineer first who not only specializes in building it green but is passionate about it. As a LEED certified consultant, Jeff doesn’t just advise, he also builds green. He not only strives to help others with their Return On Investment (ROI), he applies his methods when he builds for himself.

Following up to this post, we will later examine the build, extra expenses, ROI, finished product and living experience the home provides as we follow along and after the family moves in.

In order to achieve his goal of a net zero home, four wells with depths between 250 and 270 feet had to be built.

At $9,000 per well, this is a significant commitment. The wells are the ground source for the heat pump which can best be described as a “fridge on steroids.”  The heat pumps will utilize the temperature from the ground 250 feet down to provide radiant floor heat and cooling as well as domestic hot water.   In using the underground temperature as a starting point, typically 50F degrees, the energy needed to heat or cool to a desired temperature is less than what it would take to heat or cool from the temperature above ground.  The ground source heat pumps can easily heat or cool the home when it is 10F or 90F outside. Jeff did the energy calculations to figure out that four wells were needed to provide heating and cooling for the house. The four wells all go to one manifold. Below you can see the lines from each well that will provide for the manifold.

Early in our first conversation, Jeff mentioned ROI.  Being a realtor, this is obviously at the forefront of my mind as I know it is often the greatest consideration for consumers. I enthusiastically support decreasing our carbon footprints, and encourage others to do so as well.  Yet I find, in the marketplace, when push comes to shove, many consumers go for the immediate savings. It is a matter of fact that it is more expensive to build green and home buyers often still take the road that offers less impact on their pocketbooks. However, I hope that as more people are educated in the process, we will see a change in this mindset.

When Jeff told me it could take only two years to recoup the costs to achieve what will hopefully be a net zero home, I was impressed.

We will continue to explore the ROI in Part II. I have seen actual market examples where consumers have paid a higher price per square foot to get a more carbon footprint friendly home, and we will visit these examples as we evaluate ROI as well.

In future segments we will also learn more about SPV (Solar Photo Voltaire) panels and wrapping a home in with a rigid insulation wrap. All of these are steps in creating a Net Zero Home.

While they continue to work on the home and work towards the next progress report I will continue to enjoy the backyard setting. The 15th hole is just in the distance. Not a bad backyard!