How to Cost Effectively Build Zero Energy Homes

Eliminate barriers to ZE home construction and earn a 'Zero Energy Professional' designation

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Join EEBA and Earth Advantage for this two-part webinar series on affordable Zero Energy (ZE) home design and construction in Washington. Learn how to eliminate common barriers to ZE home construction, benefit from the rapid trend towards ZE, and earn a 'Zero Energy Professional' designation.

Zero Energy (ZE) homes are a big part of the future of homebuilding business. While the materials and equipment to reach zero energy are available, designers and builders must create a bundle of energy-efficiency features that matches their climate, customers, and business constraints. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. This training will lay out numerous elements of zero energy homebuilding so professionals can formulate a unique package appropriate for their situation:

  • Friday, December 4 @ 12PM - 3PM (PDT) - Intro to ZE, Affordability, Design, Site Orientation, Energy Modeling, Air Sealing, Insulation, Certification Programs, WA Case Studies, Incentive Programs, Local Market & Code Development
    • Guest speaker: Dan Wildenhaus, BetterBuiltNW
  • Friday, December 11 @ 12PM - 3PM (PDT) - Windows, Mechanical Ventilation, Indoor Air Quality, Heating & Cooling, Water Heating, Lights & Appliances, Renewable Energy
    • Guest speaker: Steve Weise, Leading Force Energy & Design Center
  • Optional Extended Q&A @ 3PM - 3:30PM (PDT) - Offered both days. Will be recorded and provided to participants. 

Participants in this training will learn design principles, equipment options, emerging technologies, material selections, and construction practices that can be integrated into their building process. Strong emphasis is placed on ways to make the final product affordable for homebuyers. Other topics include: housing market drivers, localized resources, Washington case studies, incentive programs, ways to assess and communicate economic benefits, and next steps to put principles into practice.

This training has been designed for Washington building industry professionals and will include information on geographically specific case studies and programs, however audiences from outside WA will find value in the content and are welcome to attend. Additional EEBA trainings in other regions can be found here.  

'Zero Energy Professional' Designation
Participants will have the opportunity to earn EEBA's 'Zero Energy Professional' designation and be listed on EEBA & Earth Advantage registries of accredited professionals. To earn the designation, attendees must pass a designation exam (at no cost) and have completed and passed prerequisite trainings

'Zero Energy Modeling Consultation' Special Offer
Participants can sign up (at no cost) to submit project specifications to Earth Advantage (EA) with the goal of achieving a minimum Zero Energy Ready home standard (available post-training on a first come first serve for WA residents only). EA will perform modeling for one single-family home and provide cost effective recommendations to the builder, designer and/or energy rater to help value engineer the project. This consultation is available for gas &/or electric fueled homes, uses a Remrate model, is certification program neutral, and is designed to provide participants with valuable next steps to support them on the road to ZE construction. All training participants will be encouraged to bring house plans and specs to the training for in-class consideration while covering curriculum on ZE case studies and the 12 steps to affordable ZE design and construction. 

Fine print: Maximum of two plan/spec submissions per project. Participants must provide required building specifications and information. Not to exceed four total hours and/or one month of consulting for each project (whichever comes first). Limited to single-family homes, and if modeling an attached unit (like a townhome), just one of the units can be submitted. Limited to grid tied systems that do not rely on battery storage. 

12 Steps to Affordable Zero Energy Design & Construction

It’s generally accepted that improvements to the thermal envelope are fundamental. These include high levels of insulation, reduction of thermal bridges and advanced air sealing. However, significant efficiency improvements in heating and cooling equipment and the rapid drop in the cost of rooftop solar electric systems offer new options for cost-effective efficiency packages. There have never been so many ZE options to choose from. This course gives building professionals the knowledge to build ZE homes that are affordable, durable, safe, healthy, energy efficient, and comfortable to live in.

The training material is organized into 12 easy steps:

  1. Start with Smart Design
  2. Orient for Sun Tempering
  3. Optimize with Energy Modeling
  4. Super-seal the Envelope
  5. Super-insulate the Envelope
  6. Select Optimum Window Efficiency
  7. Ensure Clean, Fresh Air
  8. Specify High-performance Heating and Cooling
  9. Heat Water Wisely
  10. Select High-Efficiency Lighting
  11. Choose Efficient Appliances
  12. Plan for Renewable Energy

Each step describes the most recent developments with a strong emphasis on affordability.

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Learning Objectives
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Attendees will:
  • Identify factors that are driving the U.S. housing market toward ZE
  • Name barriers to the widespread adoption of ZE homes
  • Describe three ways to present the financial benefits of ZE homes
  • List six affordable ZE features that you can incorporate into your practice
  • Learn about available cash incentives through regional utility programs and tax credits
  • Bring current house specifications and evaluate options/advancements along the 12 steps to ZE/ZER

When & Where
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Live Webinar Series
  • Module 1 - Friday, December 4 @ 12PM - 3PM (PDT)
  • Module 2 - Friday, December 11 @ 12PM - 3PM (PDT)
  • Optional Extended Q&A @ 3PM - 3:30PM (PDT) both days

CEs & Cost
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Continuing Education
BPI: 6 CEs 
ICC: 0.6 CEs

Course Fee
$29 | General Admission (Regularly $175*)
$19 | Earth Advantage Professionals (EA Broker, AGA, SHP, EA Builder), Nonprofits, & members of NW EcoBuilding Guild, Cent. WA HBA &/or Built Green

*This training made possible thanks to BetterBuiltNW and EEBA:


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Architects, Builders/Contractors, Code Officials, Consultants, Developers, Program Representatives, Raters/Verifiers, Subcontractors, Third-Party Verification Program Staff

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Bruce Sullivan
Bruce Sullivan: Bruce operates Base Zero LLC to promote greater sustainability in residential construction through training, consulting and contractor services. He has been involved in energy efficient construction since 1983 and has been a primary training developer/instructor for Earth Advantage, Energy Trust of Oregon, BetterBuiltNW and EEBA. Bruce first taught the SHP program in 2008, and has since delivered it over a dozen times across Oregon. In 2006, Bruce built his personal home that earned the NAHB EnergyValue Housing and Green Building Awards. In 2015, Bruce completed construction on a new zero energy home.


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