Net Zero Buildings

A net zero building is a building that offsets all energy use by creating energy as well so by the end of it all there is an energy use of net zero. Now frequently at trade shows or talking with people in general about the future of green building and the new way to build homes, I always cringe at the people who jump right into wanting to create energy without taking the necessarily steps to use less in the first place.

Net Zero homes usually have a setup, through solar or wind, to create energy to offset any they use. However, the concept makes use of the most important part of creating energy.


I can’t imagine the size of a wind turbine, and cost of a solar panel (about 285 sq feet at $16-$30 thousand dollars) to generate the amount of electricity that is needed to power an average (14,400 watt-hours per day) home. That’s why ICFs are an ideal building system for net zero, they will reduce energy needs.

ICFs and Net Zero

That’s why insulated concrete forms have always been a great option when our customers want to built a net zero home. They reduce your energy so the owner can create a  surplus of it and actually sell it back to the energy company!

Here is our Hyde Park example below, one of the first net-zero homes in the country to use ICFs and a first in New York. General contractor Bill Reilly of Hyde Park, New York, became interested in ICFs in the early 1990’s, but he never went any further with it at that time. However, when he started planning to build an energy efficient home for himself, ICF construction came to mind again. As a contractor with 40 years of experience, Reilly wanted to build the house himself and make it extremely energy efficient.

New York Energy Efficiency

The result was the most energy efficient house in the state of New York. With a geothermal HVAC system and photovoltaic cells on the roof to generate electricity, Reilly pays nothing for electricity. Part of the reason is that he is able to re-sell the excess electricity he generates back to the utility company. But would never be able to do that had he not built with insulating concrete forms.

Insulated concrete forms net zeroNet Zero and ICF

Net Zero HomeNet Zero ICF patio
Net zero Home

Quick Facts about the Hyde Park Net Zero home in New York

  • One-story house with walkout basement
  • 6,300 conditioned square feet
  • 3,160 finished square feet
  • HERS rating of 93.4 by Energy Star
  • Highest Energy Star Rating to date in New York State
  • Stone and vinyl exterior finish
  • Asphalt shingle roof materials
  • Climate Master Tranquility 27 geothermal heating and cooling system
  • 70% smaller than it would have been with traditional construction
  • Projected utility costs: Zero dollars
  • 11″ iForm insulating concrete form