Start with Smart Design
The ideal site for a zero energy home would have unobstructed sun, flat topography, and little exposure to the weather. It would also be located near access to services, shopping, and mass transit. While few sites will be perfect, being selective about the site will certainly pay off in lowered costs and better living. Solar access is especially important. A solar energy contractor can perform a site analysis to be sure that sufficient sunlight is available. As is often the case, a site may have less than perfect solar access. Even with less than optimal solar access, or no solar access, you can still employ all the strategies discussed here to make the home as close to net zero as possible.
Consider how the local climate affects design. One size does NOT fit all climates. Insulation levels, air tightness, moisture control strategies, daylighting opportunities, and many other design elements must reflect climate zones and local conditions. Special attention should be paid to design needs in warmer climates.
During the conceptual design phase, consider using fewer, simpler shapes, rather than many smaller shapes with lots of archi