Zero Net Energy Homes Project

EPA Grant Number: SU831877
Title: Zero Net Energy Homes Project
Investigators: Garrison, Michael , Alford, Elizabeth
Current Investigators: Garrison, Michael , Tucker, Ann , Alford, Elizabeth , Davis, Leah
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and Community and Regional Planning Program seeks the P3 Award for an interdisciplinary studio that would be the first phase of an ambitious prototype project in partnership with the City of Austin's Green Building Program.


The overall project scope would be to design, build and test a neighborhood of 6 solar-powered, net zero energy houses as a prototype providing decentralized power supply to the city grid as an alternative to fossil-fuel burning central power stations. Net zero energy houses make more power than they use and are thus able to feed energy back into the power grid. Students will learn sustainable community planning and building design practices in a real-world application. A strong emphasis will be on involvement of the community group, which will be a way to familiarize and show the usefulness of these strategies to a wider audience.

Designs will be selected with the community group and built by a construction partner on land owned by the City of Austin; the City will also provide solar panels. Students would be involved in developing construction documents and supervising construction in a subsequent course. The City has a maximum budget of $75 psf for the houses, so proving that sustainable building techniques can be affordable will be the first test of the project.

As part of a later course, student will conduct post-occupancy analyses of the houses, testing energy usage and production, and homeowner reactions to the houses. Results will be continually posted on a website created for the project.

Supplemental Keywords:

Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Sustainable Industry/Business, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Ecology and Ecosystems, Engineering, pollution prevention, Environmental Engineering, environmentally preferable products, cleaner production, sustainable development, green design, clean technology, net zero energy houses, alternative materials, green home building, pollution prevention design, product life cycle, construction material, outreach and education, environmentally conscious design

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report