Zero Net Energy Homes


Length: 10 weeks

Instructor: Marc Rosenbaum

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

Student Rating

Rating: 9.5/10 (view ratings)
330 students have taken this course


Master 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 to confidently create your own home 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 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

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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

You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. The course will not officially begin until the scheduled start date, but students are encouraged to work ahead when possible.

Access Information and Build Your Training Library

After enrolling, the course materials will remain in your account and be accessible for as long as the course is offered on the marketplace, with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after enrollment. 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 one-click LinkedIn integration.

Earn Continuing Education Credits

Self Report with Certificate: 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

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, materials, and guidance 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


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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. 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. Course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after enrollment. Typically access is extended for much longer. Your instructor will be in the course and participating in the discussion during the posted session dates. Please review the orientation materials and introduce yourself on the discussion board.

  • Introduction to HeatSpring (1 minute) (Video)
  • Marc Rosenbaum - Introduction - Welcome to the Course! (6:28) (Video)
  • Jennifer Marrapese (NESEA Executive Director) - Welcome to the BE Masters Series (Video)
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile (Text)
  • Join the Alumni Network: Add education to your LinkedIn profile in one click (Resource)
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board (Text)
  • Expectations (Text)
  • RESOURCE: Dropbox - This service will help you upload and link to your homework files. (Resource)
  • Tutorial: Sharing Files with Dropbox (Resource)
  • All Presentation Slides (PDF) (Download .pdf)
  • Capstone Project (Text)
  • Continuing Education Credits (Text)
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?

  • Introduction to Zero Net Energy Homes (32:16) (Video)
  • READING: Net-Zero Energy Buildings Take Hold in U.S. (Resource)
  • READING: Reading a Compass (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Source Energy and Emission Factors (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Zero Energy Buildings: A Critical Look at the Definition (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Zero Net Energy Buildings Principles (Resource)
  • Energy (20:49) (Video)
  • READING: NMSEA Energy Primer Sections 1-3 (Resource)
  • READING: Eliakim's Way First Year Report (Resource)
  • READING: Eliakim's Way Two Years (Resource)
  • Solar Energy (29:57) (Video)
  • READING: Passive Solar Heating - Whole Building Design Guide (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: PVWatts (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's Solar Calculator (.xls) (Download .xls)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's Solar Calculator (.xlsx) (Download .xlsx)
  • ARTICLE: How To Share Files Using a Hyperlink from Dropbox (Resource)
  • WEEK 1 HOMEWORK (.xls version) Upload a link to your finished homework on this week's Discussion Board (Download .xls)
  • WEEK 1 HOMEWORK (.xlsx version) Upload a link to your finished homework on this week's Discussion Board (Download .xlsx)
  • IMPORTANT READING! Instructions for new PV Watts (Download .pdf)
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.

  • Heat Transfer (19:59) (Video)
  • 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)
  • READING: GBA Perform Heat Loss Calculations Part 1 (Resource)
  • READING: GBA Perform Heat Loss Calculations Part 2 (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's Heat Loss Calculator (.xls) (Download .xls)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's Heat Loss Calculator (.xlsx) (Download .xlsx)
  • RESOURCE: R Value Library (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Wikipedia R Value (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: NIST Materials Database (Resource)
  • Moisture (37:32) (Video)
  • LECTURE RECORDING: "Understanding and Calculating Building Heat Loss to the Ground" (56:39) (Video)
  • 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)
  • WEEK 2 HOMEWORK (.xls) Calculate the Heat Loss of a House, then post a link to your file on this week's Discussion Board (Download .xls)
  • WEEK 2 HOMEWORK (.xlsx) Calculate the Heat Loss of a House, then post a link to your file on this week's Discussion Board (Download .xlsx)
  • After you complete the homework, check your answers against this: Week 2 Homework Solution (.xls) (Download .xls)
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.

  • Air Barriers (41:42) (Video)
  • READING: Air Barriers vs. Vapor Barriers (Resource)
  • Thermal Bridges (29:57) (Video)
  • READING: A Bridge Too Far BSC (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's Thermal Bridge Calculator (.xls) (Download .xls)
  • 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 2: Change in Peak Heat Loss Calculation (Download .pdf)
  • Week 3 Homework - Part 3: Use Thermal Bridge Calculator to compare two roof assemblies (Download .pdf)
  • After you complete Part 2 of the homework, check your answers against this: Week 3 - Part 2 Solution (.xls) (Download .xls)
  • After you complete Part 3 of the homework, check your answers against this: Week 3 - Part 3 Solution (.xls) (Download .xls)
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.

  • Foundations (29:32) (Video)
  • READING: Understanding Basements BSC (Resource)
  • READING: How To Finish Exterior Insulation (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: High R Value Foundations (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Radon Control (Resource)
  • Walls (43:25) (Video)
  • RESOURCE: Global Warming on Insulation (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)
  • READING: How To Build an Insulated Cathedral Ceiling GBA (Resource)
  • READING: Martin's 10 Rules of Roof Design (Resource)
  • READING: Lstiburek's Roof Venting Rules (Resource)
  • WEEK 4 HOMEWORK: Wall Section Drawing (Download .pdf)
  • READING: High R Value Roofs (Download .pdf)
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.

  • Windows (46:00) (Video)
  • READING: Window Basics GBA (Resource)
  • READING: Passivehouse windows GBA (Resource)
  • READING: Panflashing Windows BSC (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Windows and Occupant Comfort (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Cardinal Glazing Performance Values (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Roger Normand's blog on Finding a Window for his Passivehouse (Resource)
  • Solar Electricity (28:18) (Video)
  • READING: Solar Electricity Basics FSEC (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: PVWatts (Resource)
  • Lights and appliances (13:35) (Video)
  • Beyond Zero Net Energy (27:05) (Video)
  • 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)
  • Week 5 Homework - Part 1 (Text)
  • After you complete Part 1 of the homework, check your answers against this: Week 5 - Part 1 Solution (.xls) (Download .xls)
  • 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.

  • Ventilation part 1 (59:03) (Video)
  • Ventilation part 2 (49:54) (Video)
  • READING: Review of Residential Ventilation Technologies (Resource)
  • READING: Heat and Energy Recovery MNSHI (Resource)
  • READING BSC Ventilation Standard (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Home Ventilating Institute Certified Product Directory (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: ACCA Manual D Speed Spreadsheet (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Carrier Application Guideline HRV (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Venmar EKO HRV/ERV (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Zehnder ventilation products (Resource)
  • Marc's Zehnder Comfotube Sizing Calculator (Download .xlsx)
  • Week 6 Homework: Ventilation System Drawing (Download .pdf)
  • Week 6 Homework: Ventilation Diagram (Download .pdf)
  • After you complete the homework, refer to this: Week 6 Potential Homework Solution (.pdf) (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.

  • Fuels and Equipment (19:15) (Video)
  • Cooling (24:42) (Video)
  • System Approaches and Minisplits (25:23) (Video)
  • The Ins and Outs of Selecting Cold Climate Minisplit Heat Pumps (34:24) (Video)
  • IMPORTANT RESOURCE - Cold Climate Heat Pump Specification (Resource)
  • RESOURCE - Selecting Cold Climate Heat Pump slides (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE Links for minisplit heat pump documents (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: AHRI Product Directory (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Just Two Minisplits GBA (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Outputs of Mitsubishi Multiport heat pumps at 5F (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Heating a Tight Well-insulated House GBA (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Passive and low energy cooling MR (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Slim-M-Series (pdf) (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Halycon Brochure (pdf) (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE Fujitsu Wall Cassette Tech Manual (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE Fujitsu Single Zone Ducted Tech Manual (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Mitsubishi Multi-zone Hyperheat (Resource)
  • Week 7 Homework (Text)
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.

  • DHW (39:41) (Video)
  • READING: Gary Klein DHW distribution (Resource)
  • READING: Heat Pump Water Heaters GBA (Resource)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's DHW Calculator (.xls) (Download .xls)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's DHW Calculator (.xlsx) (Download .xlsx)
  • RESOURCE: Drainwater heat recovery (Resource)
  • Solar Thermal (34:15) (Video)
  • READING: Solar Thermal is Dead GBA (Resource)
  • 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 - Part 1: Energy Calculation (Download .pdf)
  • Week 8 Homework - Part 2 (Text)
  • After you complete Part 1 of the homework, check your answers against this: Week 8 - Part 1 Solution (.xls) (Download .xls)
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.

  • Degree Days (10:00) (Video)
  • RESOURCE: Degree (Resource)
  • Energy Modeling (22:06) (Video)
  • RESOURCE - Understanding the Energy Modeling Process (Download .pdf)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's Energy Model (.xls) (Download .xls)
  • RESOURCE: Marc's Energy Model (.xlsx) (Download .xlsx)
  • Week 9 Homework: Annual Energy Model for Boston, MA (Download .pdf)
  • After you complete the homework, check your answers against this: Week 9 Solution (.xls) (Download .xls)
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.

  • READ: How to Merge PDF Files (Resource)
  • Final Project (Text)
  • 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)
  • Important: Course Completion Request (Submit File)
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 the course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year). Typically access is extended for much longer without any action needed. If access is removed, contact us for an extension. 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.

  • Fill out this form if you'd like a certificate of completion and/or continuing education credits (CEUs): Certificate of Completion and CEU form (Resource)
  • Join: Zero Net Energy Homes Alumni Group on LinkedIn (Resource)
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey (Survey)
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate (Certificate)
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