NIST Net Zero House

Category / Science & Technology

Our Project
  • Look again! What appears to be a typical suburban Maryland home is a highly-engineered, $2.6 million NIST laboratory that was awarded the US Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum certification.
  • The project is a prototype for the ultimate energy-efficient dwelling and is part of NIST’s long-term study that will revolutionize the way sustainably-built homes of the future are designed and constructed.
  • The Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility Overview (PDF)
Why Therrien Waddell?
  • Therrien Waddell was an early advocate of energy-efficient construction methods. Senior leaders earned LEED accreditations and TW eventually achieved enough expertise to conduct sustainability information sessions.
  • NIST officials who attended one of TW’s sustainability sessions saw TW as a potential resource for this budding landmark energy efficiency project. Jerry Therrien says, “Our team was chosen for this project in a best value selection process, in large part because our experience has propelled us as subject experts in a multitude of sustainable practices.”
Challenges and Results
  • Highly specialized design and performance criteria, concerning every aspect of construction, demanded changes in accustomed means and methods. Adherence to these requirements, for example, led to a building envelope that exceeded all industry standards for air tightness in the first stage of construction.
  • The client’s requirement for all American-made materials (ARRA) was a major challenge, but the TW team was able to meet the budget and schedule despite this unusual specification.  
  • TW identified design conflicts by doing a Building Information Model (BIM) that was not required by the contract, but essential for early resolution of potential coordination issues.
  • Quality control, commissioning, oversight, and team coordination were critical because TW couldn’t alter design elements. Despite challenges, the project was completed on time to the client’s satisfaction and standards—remarkable for a project of this complexity.
Yesterday (June 3, 2014) at 12:32 PM the NZERTF achieved net zero energy for the first 11 months of operation. This is a tremendous achievement given the harsh winter . Thanks to everyone who played a role in the design, procurement, construction, instrumentation, and operation of this facility.
Hunter Fanney, Chief, Energy & Environment Division, Engineering Lab - National Institute of Standards & Technology