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The Net-Zero Post-Frame Home Evolves

Post-frame home achieves Net Zero status

Post-Frame Construction

Since introducing its first model net-zero home about 5 years ago, Borkholder Buildings and Supply, LLC, Nappanee, IN, has expanded its line of New Energy Homes and has worked to provide affordable and energy-efficient homes in the United States and abroad, including places like earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Net-zero homes produce as much energy and power as they use. Features of a net-zero home include 10-inch wall cavities, geothermal heating and cooling systems, a solar system that is integrated into a steel roof, and insulation with high recycled content. “Post frame keeps the framing affordable, provides large cavities for insulation, makes labor more efficient, and is unique among its competitors,” says company owner Dwayne Borkholder.

The New Energy Home

The net-zero home continues to evolve. The latest New Energy Home, in Sturgis, MI, was less expensive to build than the original prototype in Nappanee—$70 versus $98 per sq. ft. Located in a wooded area, this home features radiant in-floor heating and a window air-conditioning unit, rather than rooftop solar and geothermal heating and cooling systems, to help hold down ongoing operating and utility costs for the first-time homeowners. A detached garage will be added in the near future. Otherwise, the features of the New Energy Home are identical to those of the model net-zero home.

According to Borkholder, his firm is also holding discussions with officials from the city of South Bend, IN, to provide the city with mixed-use dwellings, which feature retail or office space on the ground level and living quarters above. “The city has a big problem: 1,100 lots and homes that are either vacant or in need of repair,” Borkholder says. “The [city officials] like post frame’s sustainability, construction costs, and [design] flexibility, as well as the thought of eliminating 90% of foundation costs.”

In Haiti, where engineered post-frame construction has been well received as the country continues to recover from a devastating earthquake in 2010, the company has been working with local organizations to build some small eco-homes and, most recently, a post-frame library.

“We are also now engaged with a variety of countries in planning and developing Global Quadplex homes for public housing, which are groups of four single-family homes that maximize land space. The idea is really catching on,” Borkholder says.

Borkholder wants those in the post-frame industry, including architects and designers, to realize how energy efficient, cost effective, and durable post-frame construction is compared to other types of structures both here and abroad. Through research and increased competitiveness, the post-frame industry “continues to drive costs out of our building methodology,” he says.

For more information, contact Borkholder at dwayne@borkholder.com.

Model Net-Zero Home, Nappanee, IN

The 1,350-sq.-ft. net-zero home features:

  • a grid-tied solar system
  • a geothermal heating and cooling system
  • materials with high recycled content
  • 10-inch wall cavities
  • reflective foils on all sides of the house
  • a steel roof with cool-color paint system
  • 80% fewer thermal breaks in the wall
  • an insulated concrete slab for heat retention
  • Energy Star and Green Ready certification.