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Rendering of Bethesda Net Zero Home

Construction of the very first Net Zero home in the DC area is now complete. The four-bedroom, 3,500 square-foot house in Bethesda has risen the bar for energy-efficient properties, and may be the first home in the metropolitan area to receive Platinum LEED certification, the highest rating for environmental standards under the U.S. Green Building Council.

In short, a Net Zero home is one that produces more energy than it consumes over the course of a year. The details of this house near Glen Echo, designed by local architect Marcie Meditch, were painstakingly thought through with this concept in mind. From the original choice of a pie-shaped lot that allows for passive site orientation to intelligently harness solar power, to the geothermal heating system and designer low-flow toilets, every aspect of the property is in keeping with the architect’s original vision.

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Kitchen in Net Zero Home

The house also has solar panels on the roof to help produce energy and a porous driveway that is designed to get rid of storm water runoff.  In addition to these green elements, the property has some fun touches like completely invisible in-wall speakers and a touch-screen based system that controls the audio visual and stereo system throughout the home. All Around Technology’sTim Rooney created a video display in the front hall that uses a hidden projector to display art from the owner’s collection. 

“Combined with the invisible speakers, it’s a dramatic entrance, for sure,” Rooney told UrbanTurf.

The home recently sold to interior designer and environmentalist Ann Luskey for $1.8 million. She and her three children are now settling in and getting used to their new eco-friendly environment. While Net Zero properties typically cost more money up front (buyers usually pay a 3 to 7 percent premium), in the long run the home produces most of the energy, so annual utility costs hover right around zero. And while the price tags for these homes is fairly high right now, that will change in the next few years as the building materials and technology become more commonplace.

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