By BUILDER Magazine Staff. On April 22, 2003, Tucson, Ariz., builder John Wesley Miller, in partnership with the NAHB Research Center and Tucson Electric Power (TEP), celebrated Earth Day with the grand opening of Tucson's own Zero Energy Home (ZEH). A ZEH is an energy-efficient home designed to produce as much energy as it consumes.

The home is part of a national demonstration program funded by the DOE through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The program's goal is to introduce the ZEH concept into the single-family, new-home construction industry.

ZEHs combine state-of-the-art, energy-efficient construction and appliances with commercially available renewable energy systems. The homes, like most other homes, are connected to the utility grid, but overall, with their reduced energy needs and electricity generated by the sun, they produce as much energy as they consume. The Tucson ZEH makes extensive use of active and passive solar energy systems. TEP has agreed to run the home's meter backward and credit homeowners when the home's renewable energy systems put power back into the grid.

Some of the ZEH's features include: active solar space and water heating; energy-saving fluorescent lighting; solar water heating with tankless back-up; Energy Star-rated appliances; low-flow plumbing fixtures; a very high-efficiency, air-conditioning system; radiant barrier roof decking; windows that minimize solar heat gain; air admittance plumbing vents; and PEX piping.

The NAHB Research Center will monitor energy use. The home is located at 458 E. Downtown St./3rd Ave. and 16th St., Tucson, Ariz.