A Comparison Of Traditional And Net Zero Energy Building Construction

Breakthrough the Cost-to-Build Green Building Roadblock

Too many green building projects today get stuck on the cost to build — before they even get off the drawing board. Naturally, cost is a critical concern. But there are other more significant aspects to the cost of a building. There is the return on investment (ROI) for the builders, and the Total Cost of Ownership (TOC) for the building owners.

When builders, architects, and developers gain a higher ROI from the building process, the issue of building costs becomes only one part of the cost equation. Similarly, when building owners gain a lower TOC through smarter energy management, they view the building costs from a different perspective.

The charts below depict some typical material choices for constructing the building shell. The subject property is approximately 2,200 square feet, new construction. Using Ekotrope’s Modeling Software and average construction material pricing across the US, we derived the performance/cost to construct the building. Materials included 2×4, 2×6, ICF, SIPs, and our Solid Green Panel System. Insulation material was used that met the 2015 IECC code requirements. We used the HERS rating system where a lower score is better.

Chart 1: Energy Performance/Cost Comparison of Residential Wall/Roof Systems


The low cost choices in Chart 1 are obvious, but what if you want to create a home that no energy bills thereby increasing long term value and protecting against energy price inflation? What wall/roof assemblies would create the lowest cost to get to Net Zero. We ran those calculations considering the advantages of a high performance wall/roof assemble bring along with it lower heating and cooling costs. A smaller HVAC system is needed and much less solar too. Go to Chart 2.

Chart 2: Cost to Get to Net Zero Energy Using Differing Wall/Roof Systems


Overall the solution in Chart 1 taken along with the Chart 2 demonstrates the necessity to plan the entire building process, count all the costs, and arrive at the lowest cost to build and operate a building.

Charts provided courtesy of Ekotrope, Inc.

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