Make Your Moneymaker - Page 2

Stanford prof actually shows ‘energy profit’ from his on-campus ‘zero net energy’ home
Fridays on the Homefront
Aerial view shows off the grids of solar panels.
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront
Tesla Powerwall battery packs provide energy for heating, cooling, plug loads, and transportation.

"There's no cracks left and right that start appearing when you build with wood….We reduce the heating and cooling needs up to 90 percent," Bovet said of the minimal 'infiltration rate' in BONE homes. "The owner knows he is achieving a level of precision that is very, very difficult with wood."

The company offers training in its system to contractors and has built more than 200 homes in Canada, but Jacobson's home and another recently completed home, in the Oakland hills, are its first two in the U.S.

Bovet admits that convincing clients and industry professionals of the efficiency of the system "is not always easy in traditional construction because you get resistance. People resist change."

He compared it to the initial resistance by motorists to electric cars, which he noted is gradually subsiding. Nevertheless, he said, several communities on the Peninsula are proving particularly open to BONE homes.

"It's fun to see a lot of net zero homes popping up in Palo Alto," said Bovet, explaining that more open-minded staff in that city, as well as in Belmont and Woodside, have approved multiple projects. "Everyone has been very supportive. We definitely see there's a change in mentality."

The Canadian said the company is currently working on some 60 homes in the U.S. and may hold an open house at the next one due for completion, located in Half Moon Bay.

Jacobson's home is now a part of the professor's work, as he posts figures about his energy use on Twitter. A recent post detailed some $900 owed to him for four months of electricity generated by his home and sold to Pacific Gas and Electric.

"It's performing extremely well, so we're super excited," Bovet said happily. He said Jacobson's home, and other BONE homes as well, will help people "understand that it is now quite easy to build a net zero home," which is fortunate since California has mandated that all new homes are ZNE by 2020.

"It gives me lots more data that I can base calculations on," said Jacobson, noting that one purpose of the Solutions Project is to draft 'maps' to reaching ZNE for countries, states, cities, and businesses. The professor said the group is "very conservative" in these maps, but if ZNE homes become popular, "it would be a lot easier than our [maps] propose."