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Basten Farm South, a certified Passive House in Stone Ridge completed by North River Design Build in fall 2022. Photo submitted

Energy-efficient, net-zero homes can benefit environment, lower costs

STONE RIDGE — Climate change has become a recurring issue in the world, and people like Peter Reynolds, design director at North River Design Build, are trying to make an effort to help future generations.

Reynolds has been passionate about environmental change and sustainability since he was in school.

“Ever since I was in high school or college, everyone was talking about the environment and the trouble we might be in if we don’t figure all this out. I thought, ‘OK, I have to do something about this.’”

Net zero homes have been increasingly getting more popular “over the last five years,” according to Reynolds, and are now becoming more in demand in the housing market.

Net zero homes are designed to be airtight, “creating almost a blanket” around the house. They are also well insulated and produce renewable energy. These zero-energy homes, combined with their unique design, are able to create a more comfortable home for people to live in affordably.

After the homes are fully working and installed, they are virtually no work for the owner. New people hearing about net zero homes are often deterred because of the fear of how much it will cost  to keep up.

“Zero maintenance, zero energy costs, and zero ticks,” said Reynolds. “We use a lot of metal siding and siding that doesn’t rot, so zero ticks, those are our three goals we like to tell our customers.

“You don’t even know what the temperature is outside when you are inside the house. It’s like a boat, it doesn’t leak, and you don’t need very much energy or very much electricity to heat them or cool them,” said Reynolds.

The houses have the same regulation as any other home a person may want to build or buy. Each house that is being built needs to meet specific requirements and codes depending on the area, and net zero homes have no extra requirements.

“Every house that is built has to meet the New York State energy code, and that is getting harder and harder to do, which I think is a good thing given that I am an environmental advocate,” said Reynolds. “We have to respect the energy code, but these homes exceeded in efficiency; they use about 10% of the energy a regular home.

“We’re trying to electrify houses because electricity is generated by solar panels and wind, which are renewable energy sources; they are free in nature… so you can have your meter come out to zero at the end of the year,” said Reynolds.

“I have been waiting 40 years, you could say, for the market to catch up...It’s the future for you guys,” said Reynolds.

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