Zero Net Energy Homes


Length: 10 weeks

Instructor: Marc Rosenbaum

Subjects: Zero Net Energy, Green Building

Student Rating

Rating: 9.5/10 (Since July 2015)
330 students have taken this course


"After six courses and over 250 participants, I’m convinced self-paced, asynchronous online learning is the way to master and apply new skills and knowledge." —Marc Rosenbaum

This is a 10-week online course taught by Marc Rosenbaum, one of the most popular and best-reviewed speakers at NESEA's BuildingEnergy conference every year. Why? Because he is an engaging speaker, extremely honest, meticulously detailed, and curious by nature. This course is an opportunity to study under Marc for a full ten-week semester, ask him questions, and get specific feedback on your own capstone project. You'll learn key pitfalls to avoid and get numerical guidelines on sizing peak heat loss, glazing amounts, and solar electric systems. You will walk away with a comprehensive understanding of all of the key components of a zero net energy home—envelope, systems, and renewable energy sources—and how they fit together that will empower you to confidently create your own designs. Successful students will complete a full design for a zero net energy home, including an energy model, and earn a certificate of completion.

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Learn From A Zero Net Energy Home 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.

Important: Minimum of 30 Students Required To Run This Session

Because teaching this course is a huge amount of work, we require a minimum of 30 students to enroll for the course to run. In the unlikely event that the course is canceled, anyone who has had more than 2 weeks' access to the course will get everything but $295 refunded.

Personalized Feedback

As you work through a series of in-depth design exercises, Marc provides detailed feedback on your work.

Required: Microsoft Excel

Many of the assignments in this course will require the use of Microsoft Excel.

Capstone Project

The capstone project for this course is creating a comprehensive zero net energy home plan complete with drawings and energy modeling. Marc provides individual feedback on each submission.

Self-Paced Online Course

This course is self-paced and entirely online. The lecture videos and other materials are available any time, and the instructor responds to student questions through a discussion board during the posted session dates. In order to participate, you will need an Internet connection and an up-to-date web browser. You can earn continuing education credits by completing all course assignments by the session end date.

Supported by Student Advocate – Tom McCormack

In addition to instructor support via the discussion board, students have access to Tom McCormack, HeatSpring's Student Advocate. He is available to answer general questions via email, course discussion board, or chat.

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 one-click LinkedIn integration.

Earn Continuing Education Credits

Approved for: 10 GBCI credits (LEED Professionals) , 12 PHIUS CPHC CEUs , 12 AIA LU/HSW 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. We all get to look over the shoulders of classmates to see their work. I have been extremely impressed at the efforts of my classmates and strived to do my best in turn. Marc Rosenbaum is a natural educator. His feedback is always constructive, encouraging, thoughtful, and he adds whimsy and humor in the appropriate quantities. 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

Thank you so much, Marc, for all your feedback. Your class has been awesome and exceedingly informative.

- Meghan Lyman, A3 Architects

Designing the capstone project, getting it to the point where there are effective performance numbers and dimensioned drawings that allow for material take-offs for pricing, has been a fantastic learning experience.

- Daniel Haedrich, Back Tilt Studio

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

I appreciate Marc's high level of involvement and attention to detail when reviewing and responding to homework assignments and questions. The lectures are informative and entertaining. I learned a lot from this course both technically through the material and professionally through observing Marc's teaching style.

- Margo Valdes, Conservation Services Group

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

Your Instructor

Person medium screen shot 2014 12 18 at 11.10.31 am

Marc Rosenbaum

Director of Engineering, South Mountain Company

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]

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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. Expect to dedicate a minimum of 5 hours per week to the course. Keep in mind that the instructor will be there to answer your questions and help you learn for the duration of the course. The instructor will only be available to answer questions during the posted session dates, so ask all your questions while we're in session. You will have access to all of the online materials for a full year. Contact Tom McCormack, your Student Advocate, if you have questions before or after the posted session dates. Please review the orientation materials and introduce yourself on the discussion board.

Week 1 - What is a Zero Net Energy Home, 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?

Week 2 - Methods of Heat Transfer & How They Occur in Houses, How to Calculate a House'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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Week 10 - Capstone Project: Design a Zero Energy Home

It's time to put what you've learned into practice. Our capstone assignment is to design a zero net energy home for a residential new construction or retrofit project. There are several case studies as resource guides as you work through your own design.

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, request a certificate of completion, and learn about additional resources. Don't forget that you'll have access to this course and all updates we make to it for at least a year. Feel free to come back as much as you like to continue learning, and please stay in touch. Let us know what you do next and how we can help.

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Students who took this course also took

Understanding and Calculating Building Heat Loss to the Ground

Building heat loss to the ground is not as straightforward as heat loss to the outdoor air. As buildings become increasingly well insulated, understanding ground heat loss becomes more important.

The Ins and Outs of Selecting Cold Climate Minisplit Heat Pumps

Learn the latest about heat pumps that can supply heat at temperatures as low as -15°F and how to understand ratings and manufacturers' data so you can confidently select the proper system.

Deep Energy Retrofits

Spend ten weeks with Marc Rosenbaum learning the best strategies to fix the buildings we have. At the end of this course, you will generate a deep energy retrofit (DER) strategy for a building of your choice with the help of Marc and your classmates.

Deep Energy Retrofit Case Study

In this 32-minute video, Marc Rosenbaum provides an overview of a residential deep energy retrofit project.

Introduction to Zero Net Energy Homes

This thirty minute lecture describes what it takes to build zero net energy homes. It provides builders with an honest look at the benefits, challenges, and economics of zero net energy home projects.

Beyond Zero Net Energy: PV + Storage

Marc Rosenbaum looks at the potential for battery storage to greatly increase the fraction of a house’s annual load that can be served onsite by solar electricity.

Residential Heat Loss Calculator (Excel)

This free excel tool, developed by Marc Rosenbaum, allows you to calculate the heat loss for a residential building based on simple inputs.

Zero Net Energy Homes Case Study

Enroll and download a 15 page PDF document details a Zero Net Energy Home project, including all of the energy measurements.

Download a free tool used in this course

Residential Heat Loss Calculator (Excel)

Author: Marc Rosenbaum

Zero Net Energy Homes Case Study

Author: Marc Rosenbaum