The building sector is responsible for a large percentage of the energy usage in the United States as a whole and Florida’s buildings consume more energy than those in any other state in the country. Florida’s hot humid climate presents challenges for the implementation and maintenance of energy efficient buildings but also offers opportunities to reduce building energy usage. Building technology has improved dramatically in recent years and photovoltaic technology has become affordable for individual site based generation of clean renewable energy making the dream of net zero energy houses [ZEH] a reality. After a brief history of energy efficient buildings in the United States, this paper discusses passive design strategies in Florida, advancements that have been made toward ZEH, and several cutting edge technologies that hold promise for the Florida ZEH of the future. This paper argues that although significant steps have been made toward their implementation, ZEH examples to date have not taken full advantage of Florida’s mild climate. The author maintains that Florida ZEH can be designed to take advantage of the mild seasons as well as buffer against the seasons of severe heat and humidity with a hybrid open/closed building type that can improve on the advancements already made in ZEH design while promoting a comfortable, healthy indoor/outdoor lifestyle for Florida residents.
clean renewable energy, emerging technologies, energy conservation, energy efficiency, Florida, green building, hot humid climate, sustainability, zero energy houses
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