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Net-Zero Energy Residential Building Component Cost Estimates and Comparisons



Joshua D. Kneifel, Eric G. O'Rear


Homeowners and builders have increasingly strived to build low energy homes. As building materials, equipment, and methods have improved and renewable energy systems have become commonplace, the goal of net-zero energy homes has become technologically viable. Such an example of these capabilities is on display in the NetZero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF), located at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. While the NIST NZERTF has shown that net-zero energy performing homes are technologically feasible using conventional technologies, questions related to costs continue to arise. Economic performance evaluation is reliant on accurate construction cost data, which may change significantly over time as industry learns how to implement energy-efficiency measures into building design and more energy-efficient technology diffuses into the marketplace. In order to update the underlying data in NIST's economic analysis, a NIST-funded contract was completed to estimate the costs of building components designed to meet current Maryland building energy code based on 2015 IECC as well as higher efficiency building components that are either currently installed in the NZERTF or will be installed in the NZERTF in the near future. The purpose of this study is to summarize the cost estimates generated by the outside contractor. These estimates will then be compared to those from multiple existing data sources. Findings from this study will help provide a reasonable range of cost estimates for different building components that can be used for future research related to the lowand net- zero energy building designs - in particular, research related to the NZERTF and the Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability (BIRDS) software tool.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 1207
Report Number


Building economics, cost estimation, energy efficiency, residential buildings, low-energy buildings, net-zero energy buildings


Kneifel, J. and O'Rear, E. (2016), Net-Zero Energy Residential Building Component Cost Estimates and Comparisons, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 18, 2024)


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Created October 4, 2016, Updated June 8, 2020