I pulled up to Weber State’s net-zero home and saw Jeremy Farner, Associate Professor of Construction and Building Sciences, and his son, Scout, tinkering with some blocks of wood. I got out of the car and as I approached I expected the father and son to notice my arrival. Little did I know, I was interrupting a vital lesson on construction. “No you’d have to screw it like this!” Scout declared. “Or maybe just nail it like that.” Jeremy responded. I cleared my throat, introduced myself, and with that, the tour began.
2020 Solar Decathlon Finalists
As we entered the home, I realized Jeremy and his team of Building Design and Construction Seniors had really out done themselves. The home was selected as a top 10 finalist in the Energy Department Solar Decathlon and for good reason. Not only was the home’s exterior beautiful, but the interior seemed spacious and comfortable, despite measuring only 24’ wide. As we walked from room to room, Jeremy explained the process of building a net-zero home in 6 steps. First, invest in a good thermal envelope for your home. That meant above standard wall insulation, attic and basement insulation. Yet even with this careful insulation, the initial pressurized test, revealed the home had an air leak about 40″ by 40″. That’s the equivalent of leaving the front door open year round. After the seal and final pressurized test, the home was at a 6″ by 6″ hole.
Jeremy explained, “Air sealing the home was a big game changer for us. Energy efficiency is everything when you build net-zero and air sealing the home below 1 ACH is so vital. AeroBarrier West actually donated the air seal on the home in order to bring the ACH down to 0.6.”
With the house sealed tight, Jeremy and his team could continue on to steps 3-6; invest in Low E windows, mechanical ventilation/energy recovery ventilator, closed combustion furnace and finally a solar array.
Take a viritual tour of the Weber State Net-Zero Solar Decathlon Home.
Real World Experiences
We passed by the entry way and Jeremy smiled at the plaque his senior students had signed and placed on the table, “So I was teaching this Green Building class, right? The students kept saying, ‘I wanna see it! I wanna see it!’ And so that’s when I started building real homes like this. And we started to be able to do tests. Say, ‘Oh What if we did this with the exterior wall. How much energy would it save us? What if we put in these windows? What if we did this with our insulation in the attic? Students get an opportunity to have real world work, to see it!” Here at AeroBarrier West we ask ourselves these same questions and push for greener builds for a healthier world.
Weber State Building Design and Construction students in the process of the Solar Decathlon Build.
Once the Weber State Students could see it, they began to push the boundaries of improvement and energy efficiency. Not only does the home meet net-zero requirements, but it can power itself for 3 days at vital load capacity in the occurrence of a power outage. In addition, the home produces enough energy to power an electric vehicle for 20 miles a day. The home will be sold in a lottery at market price with many potential buyers entered.
The Weber State Building Design and Construction team pushes for progression.
Here at AeroBarrier West we too strive for progression.
We are happy to have supported that same drive in the Weber State team.
This high-tech energy regulation equipment allows the home to function off the grid up to 3 days at vital load capacity.
AeroBarrier West cutting-edge sealant technology allows the home to maintain comfortable air temperatures year round at optimul energy efficiency.
A Pile of Wood
As we exited the home, we passed by that same pile of wood. Jeremy stooped to pick it up and Scout joined him. They began tinkering again. Jeremy looked up and said, “How cool is it for my students to drive by and say, ‘I helped design that house!’ It’s real. It’s tangible. It’s being able to show up on a job, see a pile of wood, walk away and see the progression.” Whether it be a beautiful award winning net-zero home or only a pile of wood, AeroBarrier West is grateful to support builders like Jeremy who continuously strive for progression.