Koch, D.C., Hutzel, W.J., Kutch, J.M., and Holt, E.A. (2011). Toward a zero energy home: applying Swiss building practices/attitudes to U.S. residential construction, The Journal of Technology Studies, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp 18-26.
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This project evaluated typical U.S. and Swiss homes to identify construction practices that are most energy efficient and have economic payback. A net zero energy home (ZEH) produces as much energy as is consumed in it over time. Students in a College o f Technology in a Midwest Indiana State University and a technical University in Switzerland resulted in developing models of homes that combined U.S. and Swiss standards. The project was completed in two phases: during the first phase o f this project, construction costs, energy use, and economic payback was calculated for six homes that were designed using both Swiss and U.S. standards. During the second phase of the project, cultural norms that influence energy use were explored. A survey was used to compare U.S. and Swiss college students’ lifestyles and energy habits. All homes had the same basic size and layout, but some used construction practices typical for the United States and others were designed according to Swiss guidelines for residential construction. The results of the study showed that a Swiss-style low-energy home is not cost effective for the Midwestern United States if energy costs remain low, but it could become attractive if energy rates escalate significantly. It was also recognized that technology by itself will not minimize energy consumption, a result o f the second part o f the project that explored cultural norms that influence energy use. From the survey of both U.S. and Swiss college students’ lifestyles and energy habits, it was revealed with a high level of confidence that Swiss students are more energy conscious than their U.S. counterparts.