Net-Zero Communities Are Growing in the U.S.

Kaupuni Village image from G70 - Group 70 International

Renewable energy is on every environmentalist’s mind, and many people are wondering how they can reduce their impact on the planet. Swapping emissions-heavy sources for renewable energy is one of the most common options.

Solar, wind and water are the upcoming leaders in clean power, taking over homes and businesses across the globe. Revamping your home for energy efficiency is a major step toward better environmental practices.

Net-zero community developers are taking a page from this book by creating neighborhoods with little to no ecological impact. How do these areas contribute to the green cause, and what’s in store for the ever-changing world?

What Are Net-Zero Communities?

Net-zero communities embody the concept of full sustainability. They have better indoor air quality, allow for self-sustained agriculture and emit no carbon emissions.

Each net-zero neighborhood differs in its features, but they all share the same goal — creating healthier living spaces while preserving the environment.

Many sustainable homes are part of the federal government’s Zero Energy Ready project. Developers who join the initiative must build houses according to Energy Star and Building America standards. Properties under this program are typically 50% more energy-efficient than standard housing due to their specialized components. 

These buildings embrace the concept of the ideal green living space and bring it to fruition for residents across the U.S. Sustainability will become accessible to more people with the rise in net-zero housing. Combining this phenomenon with increased awareness about climate change will encourage individuals to make informed decisions about the accommodations they choose.

Net-Zero Communities in the U.S.

In 2019, 580 zero-energy building projects came underway. This number is a tremendous leap from the 60 projects in 2012. The demand for eco-friendly living is here, and it’ll only increase as the need for clean alternatives grows. Discover a few of the net-zero communities currently thriving in the U.S.

Living Zenith

Utah is home to Living Zenith, the first energy-efficient community in the state. Solar panels convert sunlight to power and transport it to energy storage systems for later use.

Insulated exteriors prevent air from seeping out or coming in, while low-flow water fixtures support efficient management. Several factors contribute to this community’s sustainability, including practical building compositions, adequate insulation and solar PV.

TREE at EcoVillage

This co-housing structure exists in Ithaca, New York, and is a part of the Zero Energy Ready project. Architects created it using passive house principles. This building method emphasizes energy-efficiency and results in structures with the lowest electricity use possible.

Kaupuni Village

Kaupuni Village is the first zero-energy neighborhood in Hawai’i. This affordable housing district includes 19 single-family homes and one community center, all equipped with sustainable features. Each house has solar PV, aquaponics, low VOC finishes and electric vehicle outlets.

The community upholds the Hawai’ian tradition of ahupua’a, which consists of receiving all necessities from the local ecosystem instead of commercial avenues.

The Future of Residential Energy Efficiency

Many zero-energy communities are small-scale, but land developers plan to make significant changes in the future. One such project comes from the real estate company HF2M.

They dream of creating a net-zero community in Fort Collins, Colorado, that would include a farm and school facilities. This concept takes a noticeable departure from existing neighborhoods by scaling up the land and incorporating diverse structures.

Rural lands, abundant with space and natural resources, are shaping up to be top-tier locations for carbon neutrality. You’ll begin to see net-zero installations popping up in places you wouldn’t expect. All of these developments contribute to the global acceptance of sustainable practices.

What’s next for green construction? You may soon be able to walk into a grocery store and guarantee it’s running on renewable resources. Sustainability is spreading, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Creating Green Homes for Growing Communities

Net-zero communities are here to stay. Their presence is a significant help in protecting the planet and reducing harmful fossil fuel use. Giving residents control over their energy, air and water empowers them and allows them to make better ecological decisions.

If everyone puts their efforts toward environmental conservation and preservation, the world will be a better place to live.

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