The summer onslaught of hurricanes that ravaged our southeastern coast left a large number of people completely uprooted. Many homes were destroyed or damaged beyond repair and even for families who successfully stayed in place or returned,

Among those areas that were hit the hardest, mobile homes and trailer parks took a disproportionate amount of damage in the combination of storms because their homes were less sturdily built and often lower to the ground making them more susceptible to flooding.

In the aftermath of the flooding and historical levels of rain, people are trying to piece their lives back together, but with a little more perspective on construction policies and their reliance on the city power grid. While we may have expected an overwhelming outreach to home manufacturers as people begin to rebuild their homes, the surprise is which home manufacturers have their phones ringing off the hook.

The survivors of the triple-hurricane coastal slam have begun to think about durable, energy efficient, and net-zero housing as a way to ensure that they are never left in this devastating semi-homeless state again. Rather than looking into rebuilding with the same standard construction methods, it seems that many would prefer to rebuild better, more efficient, and less grid-reliant housing potentially bringing many neighborhoods very quickly into the future.

What is Net-Zero Housing?

The term net-zero refers to the energy efficiency of a building. The concept is that while modern humans aren’t going to live completely without power, we can generate as much power as we need. For a building to qualify as net-zero, it would need to be able to produce enough energy through solar panels each day to power the appliances and other uses of power needed by the occupants. Of course, generating the energy isn’t enough unless you have a place to store it overnight or for peak usage times, otherwise that generated energy just flows through the system and is gone when the sun sets. Therefore a net zero building includes both solar panels and batteries to create far more energy efficient than simple double-paned windows and LED lights.

The net-zero housing trend used to primarily interest the occasional incredibly wealthy person but was mostly left as an untapped building potential. However, as the hurricanes left many people completely cut off from the power grid, they’re starting to think about homes that generate their own power so as not to be stranded again. Companies like Deltec Homes who make modular net-zero homes have their phones ringing off the hook answering questions about how well their energy efficient, solar powered homes can withstand extreme weather as coastal residents try to decide how to settle back into their storm-ravaged neighborhoods.

The Deltec Solution

Considering Deltec‘s design policies, the people along the coast from Texas to Florida have a good idea. Deltec homes are modular. Their sturdy pieces are put together in a factory where everything can be tightly fitted and ensured to be of high-quality construction. They use thick, insulated walls and incredibly durable modern materials to create homes that fit together perfectly on site to create a traditionally energy efficient shell with passive solar panels and storage installed.

In fact, the entire home is designed to use 2/3 less power than a normal home and what’s left can be provided with integral solar panels. Each home can connect to the public energy grid but can also be disconnected to run on its own renewable energy. It’s this incredible design that makes them “net-zero” as the home is created to both consume less power and generate all the power it needs through solar panels.

With solar panels becoming so affordable and easily managed by the average consumer, net-zero housing is a fantastic way to live that everyone should be striving for. Of course, this is only the first half of our two-part article on net-zero housing construction. Join us next time for part two where we’ll talk hurricane Irene and state adoption of net-zero housing.