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Zero Net Energy Buildings


Instructor: Marc Rosenbaum

Subjects: Green Building: Zero Net Energy, Green Building: Building Science, Green Building: Insulation

Length: 10 weeks

Student Rating

9.6 out of 10 (view ratings)
352 students have taken this course


Developed in partnership with NESEA, EEBA and TEAM ZERO

Master a comprehensive understanding of all of the key components of a zero net energy building—envelope, systems, and renewable energy sources—and how they fit together to confidently create your own designs. During the course, you’ll learn key pitfalls to avoid and get numerical guidelines on sizing peak heat loss, glazing amounts, and solar electric systems.

Marc Rosenbaum, your instructor, is one of the most popular and best-reviewed speakers at NESEA's BuildingEnergy conference every year. He’s an engaging speaker, extremely honest, meticulously detailed, and curious by nature.

"After teaching over 300 participants, I’m convinced self-paced, asynchronous online learning is the way to master and apply new skills and knowledge." —Marc Rosenbaum

You'll need to have Microsoft Excel and some basic excel skills in order to take full advantage of the course and the included Excel calculators and tools. The course includes several tools and calculators developed by Marc over his years designing Zero Net Energy Buildings and are invaluable for professionals in the industry designing and developing ZNEB.

Important: Minimum Of 10 Students Required To Run This Session
We require a minimum of 10 students in order for Marc to host an instructor-led portion of the course. In the event that the instructor-led portion is rescheduled students can either join the next session or continue to access the materials as a self-serve course. If students choose to complete the course without ever participating in an instructor-led session, they may request a refund equal to 50% of the tuition paid.

Ready To Sign Up Today? Click Here to Enroll

Preview the Course Material

Check out a free preview of the course by clicking the button below. This is a live assignment from the course and will give you a good sense for what the course will be like.

Free Preview - Introduction to Zero Net Energy Homes (32:16)
Learn from A Zero Net Energy Building Expert

Marc Rosenbaum, P.E., is one of the most popular speakers in the building industry today. He built his first superinsulated house in 1978 and has been working on sustainable building projects ever since. The materials in this course are based on his decades of experience and meticulous practice.

Includes Valuable Tools and Excel Calculators for Designing ZNEB

This course includes several valuable tools and excel calculators to help you in your practice. We recently received this note from a past student: "I just want to write to say thank you for the class you taught and for the energy calc tools you shared. I use them regularly. I particular love comparing wall assemblies using the thermal bridge calculator" - Rachel Wagner, Through Designs LLC

Weekly Conference Calls With Marc Rosenbaum

One of the best things about this course is a rare chance to pick Marc Rosenbaum's brain and clarify course material. During the instructor-led session, Marc will be hosting a weekly conference call, any and all questions welcome!

Flexible Online Training for Industry Professionals

You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. Get access to all of the course materials as soon as you enroll. The instructor-led session will begin on the scheduled start date. During the session dates the instructor will be in the course answering questions on the discussion board. After the instructor-led session ends, you'll continue to have access to all of the course materials for a full year and can complete the course at your own pace.

Access Information and Build Your Training Library

After enrolling, the course materials will remain in your account and be accessible 12 months (1 year) after the session end date. Access can be extended beyond 1 year with a monthly membership. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world.

Earn A Certificate of Completion

When you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our LinkedIn integration.

Earn Continuing Education Credits

Approved for: 25 BPI CEUs, 26 AIA LU, 50 PHIUS CPHC CEUs, 6 NAHB Credits, 26 NARI Credits.

This was one of the best learning endeavors with which I have been involved. The very complete building science content helped me better understand the concepts I thought I understood or was lacking altogether and reinforced those concepts I did understand. The discussion board format works better than a classroom setting, giving all the time to think and give relevant feedback, ask questions, and see all responses [...] Marc Rosenbaum is a natural educator. I highly recommend this course to anyone who values energy efficiency in buildings.

- Jamie Fereday, Sol Coast Consulting and Design

Thanks for putting together a great course, Marc. I've been studying building science regularly for several years now, and I really appreciate how comprehensive your course is and how well it integrates the material.

- Bruce Dichter, Living Homes, Inc.

For those of you looking for a solid foundation in how buildings work and how to design them well, I cannot recommend Marc's offerings enough.

- Jacob Deva Racusin, New Frameworks Natural Building

This is an outstanding class, bringing an enormous amount of material into an organized series of learning modules.

- Tim Van Meter, Van Meter Williams Pollack, LLP

This is a great course if you are a professional in the field or just a homeowner interested in decreasing your energy usage.

- Ann McKinley

Your worksheet creations are really a tremendous tool for a builder like myself. I have gained insights that I never knew existed and have never seen coming from design professionals.

- Bill Tornrose, Tornrose Williams Builders

Marc is a wonderful teacher and communicator. If the construction industry is going to change to high performance construction, we need to make sure certain key concepts become the new norm. Marc is clearly a forerunner in creating this new path. If he had an sequel to this course, I would take it.

- Valerie White, White Architects

Marc's course greatly expanded my understanding of energy use in buildings and the potential of super insulated, low energy homes. The tools [and] materials Marc offers in this course are indispensable to anyone in the trade. I highly recommend it!

- Dylan Kinsey, Kinsey Construction

The 10-week format along with terrific information was perfect for my situation of needing flexibility and time to digest and apply this information to a real world project.

- Spencer Richland

+ Read more student ratings and reviews for this course


Marc Rosenbaum

Principal, Energysmiths

Marc Rosenbaum, P.E. uses an integrated systems design approach to help people create buildings and communities which connect us to the natural world, and support both personal and planetary health. He brings this vision, experience and commitment to a collaborative design process, with the goal of profoundly understanding the interconnections between people, place, and...[more]

Free Preview - Introduction to Zero Net Energy Homes (32:16)

Course Outline

Welcome - Orientation Materials

This course is self-paced, so you don’t need to be logged in at any specific time. You can complete the material whenever is convenient and work ahead or catch up if you fall behind. The course discussion board is a great place to interact with other students and ask questions. Expect to dedicate a minimum of 5 hours per week to the course. The instructor-led session runs for the posted dates and you will receive weekly emails to keep you on pace. Course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after the session ends. Please review the orientation materials and introduce yourself on the discussion board.

  • Introduction to HeatSpring (Video - 01:25 minutes) Preview
  • Marc Rosenbaum - Introduction - Welcome to the Course! (6:28) (Video - 06:26 minutes)
  • Course Format, Components, and Expectations - Please Read! (Text)
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile (Text)
  • All Presentation Slides (PDF) (Download .pdf)
  • Capstone Project - Optional (Text)
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board (Text)
Week 1 - What is a Zero Net Energy Building, Energy, Solar Energy

Topics for this week include: Distinctions and definitions, Advances that support widespread implementation. Key components of a ZNEB: Solar orientation, shading, glazing %, Superinsulated building envelope, High R, high SHGC glazing, Airtight construction, Efficient appliances and lighting, Efficient DHW technologies and generation, Heat/energy recovery ventilation, Minisplit heat pumps, ZNE occupants. What is Energy, How Much do Houses Use, Where Does it Go & How Much Energy is in Sunshine? Participants will be able to: - Describe Zero Net Energy distinctions and definitions and advances that support widespread implementation.  - Identify key superinsulated enclosure strategies of zero net energy buildings (ZNEB) - Identify major systems and components appropriate to ZNEB - Explain differing forms of energy, how much energy do typical ZNEBs use, and how to use PV Watts to calculate solar energy is incident on a building

  • Introduction to Zero Net Energy Homes (32:16) (Video - 32:16 minutes) Preview
  • READING: Reading a Compass (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Zero Energy Project (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Zero Energy Buildings - US DOE (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Zero Energy Buildings - New Buildings Institute (Resource)
  • Energy (20:49) (Video - 20:49 minutes)
  • READING: NMSEA Energy Primer Sections 1-3 (Resource)
  • READING: Eliakim's Way First Year Report (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Nine Years of Energy Data from Eliakim's Way (Download .pdf)
  • Solar Energy (29:57) (Video - 29:57 minutes)
  • READING: Passive Solar Heating - Whole Building Design Guide (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: PVWatts (Resource)
  • IMPORTANT READING! Instructions for new PV Watts (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's Solar Calculator (.xlsx) (Download .xlsx)
  • WEEK 1 HOMEWORK (.xlsx version) PV Watts (Download .xlsx)
Week 2 - Methods of Heat Transfer & How They Occur in Buildings, How to Calculate a Building's Heat Loss, Moisture, Vapor Flow, Dewpoint

We'll cover the methods of heat transfer, and learn to calculate the design heat loss of a house. We'll look at moisture transport in buildings, vapor diffusion, dewpoint, and mold. Participants will be able to: - Explain the three principal methods of heat transfer - Calculate the design heat loss of a building - Describe the principal methods of moisture transport in buildings - Describe the relationship between vapor diffusion, dewpoint, and mold

  • Heat Transfer (19:59) (Video - 19:59 minutes)
  • READING: Methods of Heat Transfer (Resource)
  • READING: Brief Introduction to Heat Transfer (Resource)
  • READING: Thermal Control in Buildings - Straube BSC (Resource)
  • Calculating Heat Loss (27:00) (Video - 26:32 minutes) Preview
  • RESOURCE: Marc's Heat Loss Calculator (.xlsx) (Download .xlsx)
  • Marc's Room by Room Heat Loss Calculator (Download .xlsx)
  • RESOURCE: R Value Library (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Wikipedia R Value (Resource)
  • Moisture (37:32) (Video - 37:33 minutes)
  • LECTURE RECORDING: "Understanding and Calculating Building Heat Loss to the Ground" (56:39) (Video - 56:42 minutes)
  • RESOURCE: Heat Loss to the Ground Lecture slides (PDF) (Download .pdf)
  • READING: Understanding Drainage Planes BSC (Resource)
  • READING: Understanding Vapor Barriers BSC (Resource)
  • READING: Residential Water Management Details (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Moisture Control for New Residential Buildings BSC (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Building Materials Properties Table BSC (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Rain Control in Buildings (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Psychrometric Chart (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: You Can Do It! (Resource)
  • WEEK 2 HOMEWORK (.xlsx) Calculate the Heat Loss of a House (Solution on 2nd page) (Download .xlsx)
Week 3 - How to Design, Specify & Test the Air Barrier, Thermal Bridges

We'll cover how to design, specify, and test air barriers. We'll look at the concept of thermal bridging and learn how to calculate the true R value of an assembly. Participants will be able to: - Design and specify the air barrier - Specify testing methods for air barriers  - Identify and calculate thermal bridging - Calculate the true R value of an assembly

  • Air Barriers (41:42) (Video - 41:42 minutes)
  • READING: Air Barriers vs. Vapor Barriers (Resource)
  • Thermal Bridges (29:57) (Video - 29:57 minutes)
  • READING: A Bridge Too Far BSC (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's Thermal Bridge Calculator (.xlsx) (Download .xlsx)
  • Week 3 Homework - Part 1: Labeling Wall Section (Download .pdf)
  • Week 3 Homework - Part 1: Wall section diagram (Download .pdf)
  • Week 3 Homework Part 1 - One Solution (Download .pdf)
  • Week 3 Homework - Part 2: Change in Peak Heat Loss Calculation (Download .pdf)
  • Week 3 Homework Part 2 Solution (Download .xlsx)
  • Week 3 Homework - Part 3: Use Thermal Bridge Calculator to compare two roof assemblies (Download .pdf)
  • Week 3 - Part 3 Solution (Download .xlsx)
Week 4 - Foundation Construction Strategies, Wall Construction Strategies, Roof Construction Strategies

This week we'll look at construction approaches for superinsulated foundations, walls, and roofs. Participants will be able to: - Prioritize investment in ZNE envelope construction strategies - Detail construction approaches for superinsulated foundations - Detail construction approaches for superinsulated walls - Detail construction approaches for superinsulated roofs

  • Foundations (29:32) (Video - 29:32 minutes)
  • READING: Understanding Basements BSC (Resource)
  • READING: How To Finish Exterior Insulation (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Building Radon Out (Resource)
  • Walls (43:25) (Video - 43:25 minutes)
  • UPDATE Week 4 - Embodied Carbon - Please Read (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Global Warming Potential of Insulation (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: David White's Insulation GWP Calculator (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Carbon Drawdown Now! Video (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Architecture 2030 Embodied Carbon in Buildings (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Builders for Climate Action Embodied Carbon Calculator (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: HeadLok application table (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Lstiburek's Barn case study (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: High R Value Walls (updated 10/17) (Download .pdf)
  • Roofs (26:14) (Video - 26:14 minutes)
  • READING: Lstiburek's Roof Venting Rules (Resource)
  • WEEK 4 Homework: Model a High R Value Wall and Roof (Download .pdf)
  • READING: High R Value Roofs (Download .pdf)
  • Week 4 Homework - Possible Solution (Download .xlsx)
Week 5 - Windows and Glazing, Solar Electric Systems, Lights and Appliances

We'll look at the performance of glazings and windows and the types of windows that are available. We'll cover solar electricity systems and how much energy these systems produce. This week rounds out with a look at efficient lighting and appliances. Participants will be able to: - Describe the performance of glazings and windows and the types of windows that are available - Calculate the energy generated by solar electricity systems and the roof area required - Specify efficient lighting - Specify efficient appliances

  • Windows (46:00) (Video - 46:04 minutes)
  • READING: Panflashing Windows BSC (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Payette Glazing Comfort Tool (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Cardinal Glazing Performance Values (Resource)
  • Solar Electricity (28:18) (Video - 28:19 minutes)
  • READING: Solar Electricity Basics FSEC (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: PVWatts (Resource)
  • Lights and appliances (13:35) (Video - 13:35 minutes) Preview
  • Beyond Zero Net Energy (27:05) (Video - 27:05 minutes)
  • RESOURCE - Beyond Zero Net Energy slides (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Energy Star Most Efficient Appliances (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Electricity usage calculator 1 (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Electricity usage calculator 2 (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Humans Share the Planet (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Overhang Shading Calculator (Resource)
  • Overhang Basics (Download .pdf)
  • Week 5 Homework - Part 1 (Text)
  • Week 5 - Part 1 Solution (.xlsx) (Download .xlsx)
  • Week 5 Homework - Part 2 (Text)
Week 6 - Heat Recovery Ventilation

This week is all about heat and energy recovery ventilation - the need for ventilation, the basics of system design, what products are available, and the fine points of these systems. Participants will be able to: - Explain the need for heat recovery ventilation - Describe the basics of how heat and energy recovery systems function - Describe the range of heat recovery products are available - Identify potential pitfalls in specifying ventilation systems

  • Ventilation part 1 (59:03) (Video - 59:03 minutes)
  • Ventilation part 2 (49:54) (Video - 49:54 minutes)
  • UPDATE - Ventilation - Please read (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Fundamentals of Energy Recovery Ventilators Video (Resource)
  • RESOURCE - CO2 in Bedrooms Brian Just (Download .pdf)
  • READING: Review of Residential Ventilation Technologies (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Home Ventilating Institute Certified Product Directory (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: ACCA Speed Spreadsheets (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Panasonic FV-10VEC2 ERV (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Renewaire ERVs (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Zehnder ventilation products (Resource)
  • Marc's Zehnder Comfotube Sizing Calculator (Download .xlsx)
  • Week 6 Homework: Ventilation System Assignment (Download .pdf)
  • Week 6 Homework: Ventilation Diagram (Download .pdf)
  • Week 6 Homework - Possible Solution (Download .pdf)
Week 7 - Heating and Cooling

We'll cover heating and cooling, showing system approaches for heating, cooling and ventilation together. We'll look at the equipment available for low load homes, focusing on minisplit heat pumps. Participants will be able to: - Describe preferred system approaches for heating and cooling - Describe how ventilation system design affects heating and cooling - Specify heating and cooling equipment available for low load homes - Select the appropriate type of air source heat pumps

  • Fuels and Equipment (19:15) (Video - 19:15 minutes)
  • Cooling (24:42) (Video - 24:42 minutes)
  • System Approaches and Minisplits (25:23) (Video - 25:23 minutes)
  • The Ins and Outs of Selecting Cold Climate Minisplit Heat Pumps (34:24) (Video - 34:24 minutes)
  • RESOURCE - Selecting Cold Climate Heat Pump slides (Download .pdf)
  • UPDATE - Heat Pumps - Please Read (Download .pdf)
  • IMPORTANT RESOURCE - Cold Climate Heat Pump Specification (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Passive and Low Energy Cooling (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Mitsubishi Multi-port Hyperheat (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Mitsubishi Single Zone Hyperheat SUZ Series Tech Manual (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Fujitsu Halycon Brochure (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE Fujitsu Wall Cassette Tech Manual (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE Fujitsu Single Zone Ducted Tech Manual (Download .pdf)
  • Week 7 Homework (Text)
  • Week 7 Homework - Possible Solution (Download .xlsx)
Week 8 - DHW and Solar Thermal

This week is all about domestic hot water (DHW) - how to calculate loads, how to minimize DHW energy, and equipment available to make DHW efficiently, including a look at heat pump water heaters and solar thermal hot water. Participants will be able to: - Calculate domestic hot water (DHW) loads - Identify strategies that minimize DHW energy - Specify equipment available to make DHW efficiently - Explain pros and cons of heat pump water heaters and solar thermal hot water

  • DHW (39:41) (Video - 39:41 minutes)
  • READING: Gary Klein DHW distribution (Resource)
  • Heat Pump Water Heaters Video (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's DHW Calculator (Download .xlsx)
  • RESOURCE: Drainwater heat recovery (Resource)
  • Solar Thermal (34:15) (Video - 34:15 minutes)
  • READING: Solar Hot Water FSEC (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Convert Your Home to Solar Energy - Everett Barber (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Solar collector ratings SRCC (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Build It Solar (Resource)
  • Week 8 Homework DHW / HPWH / PV Calculation (Download .pdf)
  • Week 8 Homework Solution (Download .xlsx)
Week 9 - Degree Days and Energy Modeling

We'll cover the concept of heating degree days and how to calculate them, then dive into combining what we've learned into an annual energy use model for the house, and sizing the solar electric system to achieve zero net energy. Participants will be able to: - Understand heating degree days conceptually - Calculate heating degree days for a project location - Develop an annual energy use model for the building - Size the solar electric system to achieve zero net energy

  • Degree Days (10:00) (Video - 10:00 minutes)
  • RESOURCE: Degree Days.net (Resource)
  • Energy Modeling (22:06) (Video - 22:06 minutes)
  • RESOURCE - Understanding the Energy Modeling Process (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's Energy Model (.xlsx) (Download .xlsx)
  • Week 9 Homework: Annual Energy Model for Boston, MA (Download .pdf)
  • Week 9 Homework Solution (Download .xlsx)
Week 10 - Bringing it All Together With Case Studies and Resources

In this week we will review several case studies to see successful ZNE projects as well review other resources for your own projects. Participants will be able to: - Evaluate the potential of a project to achieve zero net energy - Design a schematic ZNEB project - Study case studies of successful ZNE projects completed in the real world - Locate further resources to improve practice moving forward

  • Optional Final Capstone Project (Text)
  • CASE STUDY - Rosenbaum ZNE DER (Video - 21:34 minutes)
  • Rosenbaum ZNE DER slides (Download .pdf)
  • CASE STUDY - KERN CENTER Living Building Challenge (Download .pdf)
  • CASE STUDY - Plainfield School Deep Energy Retrofit (Video - 54:09 minutes)
  • Plainfield School Slides (Download .pdf)
  • CASE STUDY: Pill Maharam House (Resource)
  • CASE STUDY: Bindley House (Resource)
  • CASE STUDY: Clarke house (Resource)
  • CASE STUDY: Moomaw House (Resource)
  • CASE STUDY: Livermore House (Resource)
  • CASE STUDY: Ross House (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Northeast Sun article on Rosenbaum House 5 (Resource)
After The Course - Feedback and Additional Resources

No matter how great this course is, we know it's just one part of a bigger journey. In this module we'll start thinking about what comes next. You'll provide feedback on the course and learn about additional resources. Don't forget that you'll have access to the course materials for 12 months after the session ends. Feel free to come back as much as you like to continue learning, and please stay in touch. After your year of access expires you can optionally extend access with a HeatSpring Membership.

  • 1 Year of Access to Course Materials (Text)
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey (Survey)
  • Consider Joining as a HeatSpring Member (Resource)
  • AIA CEUs: Submit request form (within 5 days of certificate) (Resource)
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate (Certificate)
Free Preview - Introduction to Zero Net Energy Homes (32:16)

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