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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Earth Advantage has teamed up with BetterBuiltNW and EEBA to launch this no-cost, 3-hour online training designed for NW audiences to learn about Zero Energy (ZE) home design and construction.

Participants will learn how to eliminate common barriers to ZE home construction, benefit from project spotlights, and can 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 lays out numerous elements of zero energy homebuilding so professionals can formulate a unique package appropriate for their situation. Participants 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.

The training features guest speaker videos from Energy Raters who present building specifications for 13 different project spotlights on Zero Energy or Zero Energy Ready homes from across Oregon & Washington. Other topics covered during the training include NW building code trajectories, housing market drivers, incentive programs, ways to assess and communicate economic benefits, and next steps to put principles into practice.

12 Steps to 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

'Zero Energy Professional' Designation

Participants have the opportunity to earn EEBA's 'Zero Energy Professional' designation and be listed on the EEBA & Earth Advantage registries of accredited professionals. To earn the designation, attendees must complete this online training, pass a designation exam, and complete one of the following prerequisite trainings (or sets of trainings):

Exam registration and payment must be submitted separate from this online training registration - see here for more info

Learning Objectives
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Attendees will:
  • Understand 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
  • Identify affordable ZE features that you can incorporate into your practice
  • Learn about available cash incentives through regional utility programs and tax credits
  • Examine current house specifications and evaluate options/advancements along the 12 steps to ZE/ZER

When & Where
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Online course available on-demand

CEs & Cost
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Continuing Education
OR CCB: 3 CEs 
BPI: 1.5 CEs 
ICC: 0.3 CEs 

Course Fee
No cost (Regularly $90*)
*This training made possible thanks to our partners at BetterBuiltNW

Designation Exam
'Zero Energy Professional' exam registration and payment ($90) must be submitted separately - see here for more info.

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Architects, Builders/Contractors, Code Officials, Consultants, Developers, Program Representatives, Raters/Verifiers, Real Estate Professionals, Subcontractors

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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.