Houseplans Blog

Net Zero Energy in the 2015 New American Home

Net Zero Energy in the 2015 New American Home
This contemporary home maximizes an urban lot while embracing en
It may seem contradictory, but the 2015 New American Home -- designed and built by Blue Heron Construction to coincide with Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas -- is an appealing Modern Desert style 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom 5,900 sq. ft. dwelling that has achieved net-zero energy status.

That means, according to the National Association of Home Builders, "that the total amount of energy used by the building is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site." The rooftop 15KW

Photovoltaic (PV) system alone is supposed to provide 83% of the home's annual energy needs. Among the other factors contributing to the project's energy efficiency are: an air-tight thermal envelope; exterior walls insulated with spray foam to R-20; windows and patio doors with low-e coatings and that are argon gas-filled; extended roof overhangs to shade from the desert sun; Energy Star-rated roof; energy-efficient lighting; Energy Star-rated and water conserving appliances; tankless water heater. As construction supervisor Drew Smith remarked at the press opening: "We were basically building an above-ground submarine." 

The main floor plan shows how the design maximizes the site -- on a hillside development in Henderson, 

Nevada -- and emphasizes indoor-outdoor living with central entry courtyard and a view-oriented poolside patio off the great room at the rear of the lot. The house is not small but in Las Vegas terms it's not really over

the top either. I guess you could say it's "under the top," but still with plenty of floorshow sizzle in the

indoor and outdoor connections, and sculptural modern fire pits and water features -- not to mention

 multiple flatscreen TVs and the cleverly backlit translucent marble bar in the media room. The seamless
 indoor-outdoor connections -- thanks to continuous tile flooring and glass sliding pocket doors -- make the

main living spaces feel larger -- as this view from the hot tub and pool into the kitchen and living room shows. The thoughtfully designed master suite on the second floor divides the bedroom

into a sleeping area a few steps below a sitting area -- behind the low pony wall/headboard -- where both can focus on the fireplace and the flat screen TV. The master bath is organized around a freestanding

sculptural Kohler tub (the filler is in the ceiling); at the sides are his and her vanities, the water closet, and a separate shower. I would probably need a ladder to get in and out of that bathtub, but I can see the appeal of a master suite as private retreat and spa. But where's the massage table?

This house seems right for the Las Vegas climate and a successful Las Vegas entertainer's lifestyle -- but it also includes suggestive ideas for anyone thinking of building a house. All photos -- except for sixth and seventh from the top -- are courtesy Trent Bell Photography.

Net Zero Energy in the 2015 New American Home Inspiration

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