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Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF)

The Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) is a unique laboratory at the National Institute of Standards (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md. A net-zero energy home produces at least as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year.

Both a laboratory and a house, the two-story NZERTF having four bedrooms and three bathrooms would blend in nicely in a new suburban subdivision. It was designed and built to be approximately 60 percent more energy efficient than homes built to meet the requirements of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code. During the first year of operation (July 2013 – June 2014) the house exceeded its net-zero goal of meeting all of its annual energy requirements with onsite renewable energy with enough surplus energy to power an electric car for approximately 1400 miles. Instead of paying almost $4,400 for electricity – the estimated annual bill for a comparable home in Maryland – the virtual family of four residing in the all-electric home actually exported energy to the electric grid.

During the second year of testing using an alternative setup of the house’s subsystems, the NZERTF quadrupled the amount of excess energy it sent to the grid relative to the first year, 2139 kilowatt hours versus 484 kilowatt hours. This significant improvement was mostly a result of changes in operational strategy associated with the heating and ventilation systems and milder weather.

The team is currently conducting research on different systems and operational strategies within the facility to provide the building industry with insight as it attempts to build net-zero energy homes.  We invite you to explore this website for information on the facility, research results to date, and research efforts currently being explored. 

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