The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has taken on a project of major significance--demonstrating that a typical American home in the suburbs can be built to net-zero standards. In other words, it will look and perform just like a "normal" house, but will produce as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year.
The home won't house a real family. Instead, the NIST researchers plan to simulate the energy and water consumption of a family of four. Throughout the first year, they'll be testing various products and technologies in the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF), as it's called. Essentially it's a real-world laboratory built at NISTs headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md.
The ultimate goal? "To demonstrate that a net-zero energy house doesn't require homeowners to radically change their concept of the American dream. They can ease into the future.