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USA TODAY reports that homes are increasingly being built in the United States to use little or no energy, a trend that could help reduce U.S. dependence on oil and gas, according to a new book.

Zero energy homes are becoming the new green,” says David Johnston, one of the nation’s leading experts on green building and co-author of Toward A Zero Energy Home: A Complete Guide to Energy Self-Sufficiency at Home.

“The larger climate change becomes an issue, the faster zero energy homes will be demanded,” Johnston, founder of greenbuilding.com, tells Green House. He says buildings are responsible for 48% of U.S. carbon emissions, so making them more efficient could have a huge environmental impact.

These homes produce as much energy as they use on an annual basis. They typically include renewable energy features such as solar panels or wind turbines.

“Building a net zero house can get expensive, but it’s not necessarily so,” Johnston writes, noting how Habitat for Humanity built such a house near Denver for $116 a square foot.

The key, he says, is a well-designed, super-insulated home that takes advantage of passive solar gain and is so efficient it needs very little power. He recommends builders make houses airtight and then use mechanical ventilation to circulate air.

Photo by Pixel Planet.

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Originally posted by Rich Whittle on June 1, 2010 in Ideas.

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