You don't need to build a brand new, high-tech home to achieve zero energy. British architect John Christophers and his wife were able to accomplish it with an 1840s Victorian brick home in Birmingham UK. The couple bought the home, gutted it, and built an addition. Then they added insulation, new energy efficient systems, triple paned windows, a solar system and a rainwater catchment system. The grid-connected house produces enough energy to be zero energy and it has the full support of the neighborhood for its accomplishments.
Christophers and his wife searched for two years to find the right house that they could renovate and transform into a home capable of producing as much energy as it consumed. The 1840s Victorian brick house originally only had two bedrooms, but with a clever addition into the parking space beside the home the family was able to double its square footage while adding a sunny studio and meditation room. Strategically placed windows and mirrors draw light into the lower levels of the home.
The entire home was gutted to get rid of wiring, plumbing, inefficient windows, and an old roof. To improve the energy efficiency and thermal properties of the home, Christophers added insulation to the walls, tripled-paned windows, efficient lighting, a wood-burning stove for cold days, and a ventilation system that removes moisture. A solar photovoltaic system provides electricity and a solar hot water system provides domestic hot water. While the home is not off-grid, it does produce enough electricity to power the home, making it zero energy.
Via New York Times
Images @Zero Carbon House