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Working Toward Net Zero

Since its founding, Brightwater has worked steadily at building more efficient, more sustainable and healthier new homes. Now the team is tackling its next challenge – working toward the design and construction of its first Net Zero homes!

What is a Net Zero home?
Simply put, a Net Zero (Or Zero Energy) home is a home that is so efficient that it produces at least as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year, leaving the homeowner with a net zero energy bill. In other terms, a Net Zero home achieves a HERS Index score of 0. (Read more about HERS scores here.) Net Zero homes combine expert design and superior construction systems as well as renewable energy sources like solar panel systems to achieve their high performance. The end result is a home that provides comfort and savings for the homeowner while protecting the environment by offsetting any draw on finite energy resources.

What does it take to achieve Net Zero?
A great deal of design, engineering and building technology goes into creating a Net Zero home. A Net Zero home requires a highly efficient building envelope. That means well sealed and insulated doors, windows, attic, foundation and exterior walls to resist heat and air leakage and ensure that the home uses every unit of energy to its maximum potential.

Heating and cooling systems are another major source of energy usage where high efficiency is key. Net zero homes may rely on high-efficiency HVAC systems or on other renewable options like geothermal HVAC systems. Likewise, water heaters can be a significant energy draw making high efficiency and tankless options important choices. And the drive for high efficiency continues through every interior component from ENERGY STAR appliances to compact fluorescent or LED lighting packages.

Choices outside the home can also affect its high-performance capabilities. Smart siting can allow you to take best advantage of the sunshine and to plan strategically for heating and cooling areas around the home including concrete surfaces that can collect large amounts of heat during the day that will be released at night. Native plant and xeriscaping-focused landscaping plans are eco-friendly and efficient to maintain.

Then of course, Net Zero homes can use solar power to generate their own renewable energy. Solar energy systems – like the 12-panel solar systems that Brightwater commonly offers – provide clean, renewable energy that means significant utility savings, convenient back-up power when paired with a home battery and may also qualify for federal and state tax credits. (Read more about solar energy systems in new Brightwater homes here.)

What’s the first step?
The first step toward Net Zero is a Zero Energy Ready home – that is, one that is designed and constructed with high performance and energy conservation in mind and ready for additional energy-producing improvements like solar to achieve net zero usage. In its pursuit of sustainability, the Brightwater team has already been hard at work designing, engineering and sourcing its first zero energy designs which will combine high performance construction, geothermal HVAC systems, geothermal or tankless electric water heating and solar energy systems.

After extensive planning and design work, Brightwater’s first Zero Energy Ready Homes are set to start construction soon at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, SC. We’re excited to take our first steps on the journey to Net Zero homes that reflect the passion and commitment of the Brightwater team to create the very best new homes that are more efficient, healthier and built responsibly with a true respect for the environment.

Learn more about Brightwater’s commitment to sustainability and the new home features and details that drive the performance of our homes here, and remember living green is living brightly!

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