The purpose of this research was to evaluate affordable technologies that are capable of providing attractive, cost-effective energy savings to the housing industry. The research did so by investigating the 2011 Solar Decathlon competition, with additional insight from the Purdue INhome. Insight from the Purdue INhome verified the importance of using a three step design process to design a net-zero energy building. In addition, energy consumption values of the INhome were used to compare and contrast different systems used in other houses.

Evaluation of unbiased competition contests gave a better understanding of how a house can realistically reach net-zero. Upon comparison, off-the-shelf engineering systems such as super-efficient HVAC units, heat pump hot water heaters, and properly designed photovoltaic arrays can affordably enable a house to become net-zero. These important and applicable technologies realized from the Solar Decathlon will reduce the 22 percent of all energy consumed through the residential sector in the United States. In conclusion, affordable net-zero energy buildings can be built today with commitment from design professionals, manufacturers, and home owners.


Net-Zero, energy, sustainability, housing, Solar Decathlon, efficiency, Purdue INhome

Date of this Version



Mechanical Engineering Technology

Department Head

Dr. Ken Burbank

Month of Graduation



Master of Science

Head of Graduate Program

Dr. James Mohler

Advisor 1 or Chair of Committee

William J. Hutzel

Committee Member 1

Clark A. Cory

Committee Member 2

Gregory C. Lasker