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Net Zero Energy Home: A Marvel of Energy Efficiency (Part two)

Posted by Mike Anderson on 11:51 AM on August 28, 2013

June August net zero

It’s been almost two months since we last updated you on what will be the most energy efficient home ever built by Twin Cities Habitat. As you can see in the photo above, construction of the net zero house is coming along wonderfully, with many of the house’s biggest design features already installed and ready to be used by the family moving in late autumn.

The most obvious development you’ll notice is the red siding, which is nearly finished. Solar panels on the roof should also stick out – they are fully installed, and the solar PV racking is going in now.

In the coming months volunteers will put the final touches on the interior and exterior paint jobs; they will complete the grading, and finish installing the rear siding; triple pane windows, a mini-split air to air heat exchanger, and many other energy-saving design features will be put in place as well.

All of the energy-efficient elements – the siding, solar panels, super-insulated walls, etc. – will not only lessen the impact of the house’s energy usage (thereby lowering the carbon footprint and reducing environmental harm), but will also greatly benefit the family, helping them to save money on energy costs.

“Assuming they operate the house in an energy conscious manner, on an annual basis they should not have an electricity bill.  There is no gas service to the house, so they won’t have a gas bill either,” said Chad Dipman, a Twin Cities Habitat employee who is overseeing the project.

So far, the project has gone smoothly, with close to no hiccups. It’s pretty remarkable, considering this is an entirely new building style for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. Besides having to remove insulation due to the lack of an engineering letter, and a few headaches resulting from the siding installation, the project is so far devoid of any major problems. Provided it continues along its nearly problem-free path, the construction should be completed late fall, allowing the family to move in shortly thereafter.

Sarah Olson and Abdi Mohamed are the homebuyers moving into the Net Zero Energy Home. In it, they will be raising their four-year-old twins, Jamal and Sofia. Their six-year-old nephew, Yahya, will also be living with the family.

Right now, all three children are sleeping in the same bedroom. There is no room for their daughter to have her own space.  “I am so grateful that my daughter will be able to sleep in her own bedroom. She is turning five, and needs privacy – and a break from the boys,” Abdi said. The apartment isn’t just cramped; it’s also unsafe, and presents the family with numerous health issues. Mold covered walls provoke Sarah’s asthma attacks, and causes everyone’s allergies to flare up; Abdi’s car has been broken into twice and the apartment's windows are cracking and unsecure. Needless to say, it's hardly a fit place to be raising their children.

Abdi and Sarah are so very grateful to be moving out of their unsafe, unhealthy and claustrophobic apartment and into the Net Zero Energy home. “It’s a double blessing: Not only am I moving out of this apartment, I’m moving into a Habitat home that will let me save money on utility bills. I can start saving for my children to go to college,” Abdi said. “I can’t express how thankful I am for Habitat and everyone involved.”   

Look for a third update this fall when Twin Cities Habitat finishes constructing its most energy efficient house ever. 

Contributed by Patrick Dunn

Tags: Donor Spotlight, Family Spotlight

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