There are a lot of houses out there, and a lot of them are inefficient, old, and uncomfortable – especially in Maine. From a resource management perspective, it makes sense to retrofit those homes rather than raze and rebuild. That’s why we do what we do.

That said, people are going to keep building new homes. It makes sense for that new construction to incorporate as many energy efficient technologies as possible. Green building needs to become the new normal.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is on it. Their newest laboratory, the Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility, is designed to demonstrate that a typical looking suburban home for a family of four can generate as much energy as it uses in a year. The two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath house incorporates energy efficient construction and appliances as well as energy generating technologies such as solar water heating, higher-than-standard levels of insulation and solar photovoltaic systems.

I love my 1856 house enough that I’ve retrofitted it and cut overall air leakage by 55% - but if I ever build a new house, it should work like this. Thanks, NIST, for doing the legwork to test high-efficiency and alternative energy systems, materials, and designs.