Listed here are things we have found useful on our journey.


The New Net Zero: Leading-Edge Design and Construction of Homes and Buildings for a Renewable Energy Future, Maclay, William and Maclay Architects, 2014, Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT, ISBN 978-1-60358-448-7.

This excellent 552-page book covers passive building design from the broad concepts to nitty-gritty detail. A wealth of information and ideas.

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, Hawken, Paul editor, 2017, Penguin Books, New York, NY, ISBN 9780143130444.

A rating among 100 things that can be done to mitigate global warming. Various aspects related to more efficient home construction, solar energy, and electric vehicles are included. An interesting overview.


Fine Homebuilding, Taunton Press, Newtown CT.,

Fine Homebuilding is a leading magazine that appeals to builders, architects, and potential homeowners on a technical/trade level. Editorially, they have embraced the need for energy-efficient homes and nearly every issue has at least one article including that theme. The advertisements are also a resource for knowing what new techniques and products have become available.


American Solar Energy Society (ASES)

ASES, founded in 1954, broadly promotes the movement towards sustainable technologies. Although its focus is mostly on solar-electric systems, their magazine Solar Today also features articles on energy efficiency, small-scale wind power and other related topics. Among other activities, ASES (together with Solar United Neighbors) organizes the annual National Solar Tour. The Tour is a national open house featuring hundreds of homes across the nation. We have participated since 2018.

Solar United Neighbors (SUN)

SUN is primarily an organization of individual owners of residential solar-electric systems. Among other benefits, they offer Webinars on various subjects, participate in the National Solar Tour, and lobby for solar-friendly regulations.


Manual J: Residential Load Calculations, Eighth Edition, Version 2.11, ANSI/ACCA 2 Manual J – 2011, ACCA, Arlington, VA, ISBN 978-1-892765-35-7.

Manual J (550 pages) is the American National Standard for residential heating and cooling load calculations. It is used to calculate peak heating and cooling requirements and thus the minimum required capacity of the heating and air conditioning equipment used. Alternate tools available from, for instance, Passive House Institute of America are better tailored to very efficient buildings, but we used Manual J because of its ready availability. In our opinion, however, it is neither well organized nor easy to use. ACCA is the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

Manual D: Residential Duct Systems, Third Edition, Version 2.00, ANSI/ACCA 1 Manual D – May 2014, ACCA, Arlington, VA, ISBN 9781-892765-50-5.

If your heating or cooling system includes air ducts, then Manual D is the essential tool for ensuring that the air distribution system does what you want it to do and that it doesn’t present too much resistance to air flow – especially if you are using a ducted mini-split heat pump whose fans are not robust. 276 pages.

Climate Specific Passive Building Standard, Wright, Graham and Klingenberg, Katrin, Passive House Institute US, available from

Not really a standard, this is actually a report from PHIUS to the Department of Energy justifying certain energy efficiency standards and the approach of defining climate-specific criteria to be met.

To find out the standard’s recommended values for your location, go to: Expand the interactive map and click on the point nearest to your location. The result is a table giving you:

  • Your climate zone

  • The recommended maximum annual heating demand in kBTU/sq.ft.-ICFA/year

  • The recommended maximum annual cooling demand in kBTU/sq.ft-ICFA/year

  • The recommended maximum peak heating demand in BTU/sq.ft-ICFA/hour

  • The recommended maximum peak cooling demand in BTU/sq.ft.-ICFA/hour

  • The recommended maximum peak cooling demand as calculated using Manual J in BTU/sq.ft.-ICFA/hour.


  1. sq.ft.-ICFA is short for the interior conditioned flour area in square feet)

  2. Either of the last two criteria can be used to show compliance for certification.

other useful websites:

pvwatts/ will calculate how much energy a solar array will generate during an average year. Enter your street address on the home page. The next page will tell you your longitude and latitude and show you your location on a map. Select “System Info” which brings up a simple form with default data entered.

Enter the DC rating of your system, the tilt angle of the collectors (i.e. the slope of the roof if they are roof mounted) and the compass heading at which the collectors are pointing (180 degrees for due South), and, optionally, how much you pay for electricity in dollars/kWh. Unless you know differently, leave the rest of the default values unchanged.

Now select “Results” and it will show you month-by-month and total yearly average energy generation from the array. If you entered how much you pay for electricity, it will also show you how much you will save.