Since there are no currently active contests, we have switched Climate CoLab to read-only mode.
Learn more at
Skip navigation
Share via:


Our homes and other buildings account for half the energy we use and carbon we emit, so let's make them as close to zero-energy as possible!



Although more than 80% of Americans understand that climate change is a big problem that's getting worse, most don't realize that they can stop it themselves, without waiting for the fossil-fuel industry and many politicians to stop denying the problem even exists.  And the solution will not only stop climate change and save the planet, but most likely put money in our pockets and protect us, our families and our homes from the severe weather anomalies that seem to be getting more and more common.

Who doesn't dream of building their ultimate home someday as they keep a wish-list of features the next one will have? And even if they think they won't be able to afford a new house, improving the one they're in is the most common weekend project in America.  So why not include those same features that will make the house more comfortable and affordable as well.

Improving the energy efficiency of our existing homes to save on energy bills and make them more healthy and comfortable is a no-brainer.  Getting an Energy Audit to find out how much and where improvement is needed is a good starting point, and using the audit results to seal air leaks and add insulation can easily pay for itself many times over in the years afterwards.

But if considering the building of a new home, proper design and planning can result in a house so efficient that it may not need any heating or cooling energy at all, as well as making the house immune to most weather disasters, wildfires, mold, or even termites.  After the initial shock, most everyone's first response is, "Yeah, but how much more will it cost me?", and after being told, "Probably nothing," the next is, "Where can I see one?"

And therein lies the problem, since the only thing that comes close would be private residences not accessible to the public, with unknown construction costs.

What actions do you propose?

How do we prepare for - and end - climate change by building better homes? Make them as energy-efficient and indestructible as possible!

What we need are permanent display facilities that are open to the public for tours and demonstrations, as well as group presentations and classes on climate change, weatherization and zero-energy home (ZEH) construction, not just for the general public, but also for the new workforce that will be needed to help consumers upgrade or build their homes. By demonstrating and teaching the building of ZEH's, we hope to open a whole new construction industry that will help end fossil-fuel use and climate change, completely driven by free-market choice, instead of political lobbying or government regulation.

Our plan is to build a 5000 sf ZEH with a greatroom and two 600 sf classrooms for contractor/homeowner training and seminar presentations. The preferred location would be on or adjacent to the campus of a local college willing to partner with us for student accreditation. Wherever possible, ZEH and structural features will be demonstrated, and energy consumption/savings data will be displayed. Below is a basic description of the planned construction methods and materials:

Using the Passive House features of Insulated Concrete Forms for all exterior walls from the basement footing to the roofline, Passive Geothermal energy will help keep the interior at a near-comfortable temperature of about 60 degrees year-round, much like a basement in the summer. Passive Solar-heated hydronic under-floor radiant heat can bring the temperature up to 70+ degrees as needed, besides heating the potable water. Structural Insulated Panels covered with a heat-reflecting metal roof, skylights and solar panels will keep the upper floor cool while reducing the lighting and appliance energy load. An Energy Recovery Ventilator will maintain Indoor Air Quality, and no structural materials will be made of wood, further reducing the threat of fire, mold, termites and deforestation.

Any awards earned by this proposal will be used as seed funding, and any support or suggestions are appreciated..

Who will take these actions?

Better Building Institute is a non-profit corporation committed to helping homeowners improve their energy efficiency through education, consulting and audits. Completely donation-funded, BBI is composed of energy consultants, insulation contractors, builders, architects and engineers, all working together to reduce or eliminate fossil-fuel use in homes, and slow or stop climate change and its effects on our homes and lives.

Don Dieckmann (


Where will these actions be taken?

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

What are other key benefits?

What are the proposal’s costs?

Time line

Related proposals