Think your house is the best Zero Net Energy building in the Northeast? 


You could win $10,000! The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), a membership organization with a mission to advance the adoption of sustainable energy practices in the Built Environment, is on the search for this year’s $10,000 Zero Net Energy Building Award. They’re looking for the BEST building in the Northeast.


What do they mean by “best?” The best house not only offers efficiency (demonstrates operation at zero net energy—using no more energy than produced—for a full year), but also offers comfort, affordability, reliability, and elegance. Here’s the full list of criteria! 

In addition to $10,000, if you win the award you will also win:

  • The opportunity to share your design board in a poster show in the entrance to the BuildingEnergy 15 conference at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston March 3-5, 2015
  • Free tradeshow pass to BuildingEnergy 15 conference on Wednesday, March 4, 2015
  • Your home or building presented on the NESEA website as a ZNEBA 2015 applicant
The 2014 Winner

NESEA’s 2014 Zero Net Energy Building Award Winner

Think your house makes the cut? Here’s a more detailed eligibility checklist to review: 
  1. Occupied buildings in the Northeast only
    Six New England states plus New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
  2. Continuous occupancy
    Your building should be fully occupied during the 12-month period for which supporting data is provided.
  3. Documentation
    You must have documented the building’s net-zero energy usage for a 12-month period of full occupancy.
  4. Replicability
    Your project should achieve net zero in ways that are reasonably easy to replicate. Widespread adoption of best practices is the goal.
  5. Realism
    Conservation is encouraged, of course. But idiosyncratic behaviors such as living with very low thermostat settings are hard to take seriously. If you submit an uncommonly low power demand, you may be asked to provide an itemized list of appliance loads.
  6. Site visit/audit
    Sometimes, one or more of our judges requests a site visit, so you should be prepared for that. If this is deemed necessary, we will contact you to arrange a time that works for everyone.
  7. Be a potential BuildingEnergy Pro Tour site
    If you win the Zero Net Energy Building Award, your site will be put on the list for a BuildingEnergy Pro Tour on the first Friday in May, 2015. To learn more about how Pro Tours work and what is involved, contact Miriam Aylward at or (413)-774-6051 x 14

Good on all of that? The deadline is December 15 so you’ve got to get moving!


  1. Electronic Submission Form:
  2. Building images (via Electronic Form)
    Digital images are required—the judges are located in multiple states. More information here.
  3. Energy performance data forms (Via Electronic Form)
    To substantiate net-zero energy use, NESEA requires detailed data. Download and complete the Zero Net Energy Performance Data Forms and submit the workbook by email.  See the Forms section.
  4. Supporting data (Via Electronic Form)
    NESEA is asking applicants to submit data through WegoWise, a free building energy monitoring system, rather than submitting actual energy bills. NESEA has a partnership with WegoWise and will only need your username and permission to access energy usage data. WegoWise will allow you to upload energy data in bulk via an excel spreadsheet with a custom format. Some utilities even have the option to auto-import your energy data directly from the utility company. Please visit for more information. More detail here. 
  5. Narrative description (Via Electronic Form)
    *Summary narrative of no more than 500 words describing your building. This narrative should include a description of the building’s location, its key sustainable design features, and any other information that will help our judges assess its comfort and replicability. If you like, explain your intentions in undertaking the project. What motivated you to build or retrofit for net zero? This information may be helpful to us in promoting the Zero Net Energy Building Award and your specific entry.
    *Brief occupancy statement explaining how the building is used
    *The five major energy-related systems.
Check out NESEA’s website to learn more about the application process. Hoping to talk to someone at NESEA? Email our friend Miriam Aylward:


You can mail everything to: NESEA Attn. Miriam Aylward/ZNEBA, 50 Miles Street, Greenfield, MA 01301


Here’s a list of great resources for you to learn more about the zero net energy building process!
  1. FREE Lecture: “Understanding and Calculating Heat Loss to the Ground | In this FREE 60-minute lecture, Marc Rosenbaum gives you a better idea about they way that buildings interact thermally with the ground and how to calculate heat loss to the ground.
  2. FREE Course: High Performance Building and HVAC |This is the most comprehensive free course on building science and high performance HVAC systems available on the internet. When you enroll, you’ll have access to more than 20 hours of instruction from the industry’s top experts, including John Siegenthaler, Marc Rosenbaum, Mike Duclos, Allison Bailes, Ryan Carda, Bob Ramlow and Vaughan Woodruff.
  3. FREE Lecture: Passive vs. Conventional Floor Planning | In this FREE 60-minute lecture, Mike Duclos provides a background on the Passive House movement, presents examples of Passive House designs and floor plans, and explains why floor planning is critical for cutting costs, energy efficiency, and meeting the rigorous Passive House criteria.
  4. Enroll in Zero Net Energy Homes | Spend 10 weeks learning with Marc Rosenbaum. You’ll walk away with a comprehensive understanding of all of the key components of a zero net energy home – envelope, systems, and renewables – and how they fit together, with key pitfalls to avoid, and numerical guidelines on sizing peak heat loss, glazing amounts, and solar electric systems that will empower you to confidently design a zero net energy home.
  5. Read a Full Case Study of 8 Zero Net Energy Homes
  6. Look at past students’ capstone projects of Zero Net Energy Homes