How feasible are zero energy buildings?

In the discussion on practice-oriented measures to reduce the CO2 emission, one measure most demanded is the development of zero heating energy houses. The technology applied and investigated in the first pilot projects seems to indicate a possible future without any CO2 emission with respect to residential building. What is really hidden behind this technology and whether it is feasible to introduce it into construction practice, is to be discussed in this contribution with regard to practical experiences.

The advanced combustion woodburning fireplace. An alternative efficient residential heating system.

 Fireplaces have occupied an important place in North American households for more than 400 years. They have acted as a place where the food was cooked, where people gathered around to talk at the end of the day and hopefully, where they could get warm. Even today, builders find it difficult to sell a new house which does not have a fireplace. However, housing characteristics have changed remarkably, particularly over the last 25 years.

Field measurements of heating system efficiency and air leakage in energy-efficient manufactured homes.

Detailed field measurement of air leakage and electric forced-air heating system efficiency in nine Pacific Northwest manufactured homes built to adapted Model Conservation Standards were conducted during the 1994 and 1995 heating seasons. The research measured directly both heat delivery efficiency and system efficiency (as defined by ASHRAE in its HVAC Systems and Equipment Handbook) with a short-term alternating coheat test. For this test, a home is alternately heated with the furnace and then with an array of small electric heaters placed in each room which has a supply register.

Unvented combustion appliances.