NYSERDA Supports Net Zero Home Building in the Low-rise Residential New Construction Program

Significantly Higher Incentives for Higher Performance Aim to Spur Market Transformation

June 06, 2014

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced today that significantly higher incentives are now available through its Low-rise Residential New Construction Program to encourage the construction of highly energy-efficient homes, including the first incentives specifically targeted to homes designed to achieve net zero energy performance. NYSERDA recognizes that progressive builders across the state have been leading efforts in the residential market’s adoption of net zero standards through use of currently available building technologies and systems. These builders are helping to educate their home buyers by demonstrating that net zero home energy performance is within their reach. NYSERDA’s new program incentives will support and accelerate adoption of this level of performance in the residential new construction marketplace.

Incentives of between $2,000 and $8,000 per-dwelling-unit are now available to builders, offered in three performance tiers, with the highest incentive amount reserved for homes designed to achieve net zero energy performance. Under this program, a net zero home is capable of producing as much energy over a year as it will need to supply the home’s energy needs.

“It is very encouraging that the market has spoken clearly in fostering the adoption of net zero as the new ultimate standard for home energy efficiency,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. “Driven by builders and facilitated by NYSERDA, this evolution effectively demonstrates how Governor Cuomo’s energy-efficiency initiatives play out in practical, real-world terms. Leading builders have proven that building to net zero is achievable, and NYSERDA is dedicated to assisting more builders to meet this new goal.”

In order to attain the net zero energy performance, builders, designers and homeowners now incorporate combinations of these features and techniques:

  • solar electric (PV) generating systems,
  • solar thermal systems to generate domestic hot water, and for space heating,
  • integrated designs that maximize the benefits of solar heat gains through 1) a building orientation that takes advantage of the daily and seasonal position of the sun, 2) window and door placement and the use of products such as multi-glazed windows and insulated doors, and 3) integrated building features, such as extended eaves or permanently installed awnings to reduce undesired solar heat gains,
  • higher performance building elements than in typical homes, such as more effectively insulated wall panels and systems, both above and below ground level,
  • significantly increased air tightness achieved through integrated design and high-quality execution, including careful seam sealing and weather-stripping,
  • higher efficiency heating and cooling systems, including ground- and air-source heat pumps, as well as integrated heat- or energy-recovery ventilation systems,
  • advanced and integrated lighting design, which includes use of LED technologies and controls that take advantage of natural light,
  • high-efficiency appliances, electronics and controls.

Importantly, the annualized calculation of a net zero home considers seasonal climactic factors, including variances in outdoor temperatures and the availability of solar energy.

NYSERDA’s Low-rise Residential New Construction Program also continues to support the construction of New York ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes by offering incentives to achieve that level of performance. All homes constructed to standards associated with this program are designed and built to use less energy than conventionally built homes and provide homeowners with comfortable, durable, healthier, environmentally friendly homes that are cost-effective to own and operate. Proven technologies and advanced building practices, combined with performance testing by certified Home Energy Raters, ensure the homes are energy efficient. They may be single-family homes, townhouses or low-rise residential buildings (primarily three stories or fewer). Net zero is a goal of NYSERDA’s Low-Rise Residential New Construction Program – the ultimate in home energy efficiency design – but the underlying performance of New York ENERGY STAR Certified Homes will continue to serve as the basis for that more ambitious achievement.

Over the past 13 years, NYSERDA has supported the construction of more than 25,000 energy-efficient homes, garnering practical experience in achieving increasingly rigorous standards to reduce energy consumption, airborne carbon emissions and dependency on imported fossil fuels. NYSERDA has also worked extensively with builders, and materials and equipment suppliers to advance the state of building science, and provides detailed technical support along with financial incentives that reflect and support increasing efficiency standards.

For details visit: nyserda.ny.gov/net-zero

With this latest initiative, New York’s role as a leader and first mover in shaping the future of energy remains firmly in place. By developing innovative market solutions, the State is delivering on Governor Cuomo’s commitment to transform the energy industry into a more resilient, clean, cost-effective and dynamic system. Working with State, citizen and industry-stakeholders, the way of doing business in New York is moving to a more market-based, decentralized approach. This means preserving the environment, decreasing energy costs, and creating opportunities for economic growth for current and future generations of New Yorkers. In advancing these new energy systems and solutions, New Yorkers will have improved energy affordability and efficiency without sacrificing the ability to live in a cleaner, resilient and more sustainable environment.