Vision Zero Demo House Shows Zero Vision


Vision Zero

Houses of the future just aren't what they used to be. These days, the vision of the future people want to see is exactly what they have now, the big suburban house with a three car garage. So that is what Dow Chemical and Cobblestone Homes created with their Vision Zero demonstration project.

This house is in Bay City, Michigan, is 3,400 square feet, and has $ 78,400 in energy upgrades which will save $ 3,507 per year at current energy prices.
Dow solar shingles: what happens when it snows?

Technologies include ground source heat pumps, solar shingles, solar hot water and since it is from Dow Chemicals, plastic, lots of plastic. Half the facade is garage.

They say on the Vision Zero website:

Because of the energy-efficient products used in a net-zero energy home and because it requires so little energy from the utility companies, net-zero energy homes also have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

How? Power plants do not run on foreign oil, cars do. If you want to reduce dependence on it you build on smaller lots at higher density. You do not build three car garages and 3400 square feet on hundred foot lots. They continue:

Many net-zero energy homes also use building materials made from renewable resources - for even greater sustainability.

Perhaps many do, but did this one? There is no indication of it containing sustainably harvested wood, and everything else is vinyl. It is a good thing that it has a heat recovery ventilator to bring in fresh air, because it is a phthalate palace.


Thermax insulation in basement: it is a polyisocyanurate. I sure hope they are covering it in drywall.

The vision wasn't just to build one home. It was to educate the public and homebuilders on the possibilities of energy efficiency in harsh northern climates. That's why much of the building process was documented - to lead the way for others wanting to improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of their homes.

What a failure of vision. What a demonstration of unsustainability.

More on Houses of the Future:
The Green house of the Future in the Wall Street Journal
Robert Heinlein's House of the Future
Monsanto House of the Future
Cardboard Houses of the Future
New House of the Future Coming to Disneyland

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Tags: Architecture | Green Building | Housing Industry

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