You don't need to build a new house to "go green". The Birchwood home by Sustainable Connections is the first home in Whatcom County, Washington to receive Net-Zero Energy certification, and it was a retrofit. Jeff and Annie Aslan optimized the energy performance of an existing home, installing sufficient solar power to produce twice as much energy as they use.
Two years ago, the couple bought the house originally designed by Greg Robinson and built by Cascade Joinery for the Kulshan Community Land Trust. The existing property already came with energy-efficient construction and a solar system installed by Ecotech Solar. They wanted to reduce the energy usage of the property even more and switch to 100% solar power.
Lacking sufficient surface area to install new solar panels on the roof, the owners took another path to achieving net-zero performance and altered their lifestyles. They started by changing all the lighting to LED and installing a heat pump, heat recovery ventilator, thermal blinds on the windows and adding attic insulation.