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Near-Zero Energy Home Features Building Envelope Technologies
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Near-Zero Home in Paterson, New Jersey.
Photo courtesy of BASF
BASF’s “Better Home, Better Planet Initiative” showcases models of excellence in sustainable building and construction worldwide. This prototype ultra-energy-efficient home serves as a template to designers and builders in the Paterson, NJ housing market as they look to build 3000 new affordable homes in the future.

Win-win Partnerships. The near-zero energy home in Paterson is handicapped accessible and will be donated to the St. Michael’s Housing Corporation to be occupied by a quadriplegic boy and his family. BASF Corporation, with more than 50 partner organizations, designed and built the 2900 sf near-zero energy home. The builder saved construction costs with easy-to-install insulating and structural systems. The home is 80% more energy efficient than a conventionally built home. Combining solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) systems with insulating concrete forms (ICFs), a Monotech® shotcrete exterior system, and structural insulating panels (SIPs) to create an air-tight building envelope. This home is an example of how mixing technologies can create efficiencies in a modest single family home. This project proves that smart use of design and materials, energy efficiency, and accessibility can go hand in hand.

Using zero-energy housing concepts researched and recommended by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the home achieved a 93 HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Energy Star® score and achieved a “LEED for Homes” Gold rating as a pilot project. Plus, with the inclusion of solar panels, it supports New Jersey's Solar Initiative Program.

Superior Envelope. Concrete helps to insulate and strengthen the envelope. Insulating concrete forms (ICF) produced by American PolySteel create strong basement and first floor walls that were easy to build and air tight. The ICF system consists of rigid insulating foam held together by steel ties. Once the foam panels are put in place, concrete is poured in the space between them and allowed to cure. The completed wall system delivers thermal resistance of R-30. The foam forms and concrete together reduce air infiltration and provide thermal mass that depending on the climate, can push the effective R-value even higher compared to the equivalent wood frame wall. The second floor walls and roof are constructed with structural insulated panels (SIPs), created by Insulspan of Canada, made by sandwiching EPS foam boards between two oriented strand board panels.

The exterior walls of the house are covered with a cement-based “Monotech System” created by Monotech International of Houston. A ½ inch polymer-enhanced shotcrete coating is applied directly over expanded polystyrene (EPS) rigid insulating foam. This system is significantly stronger than stucco and saves construction costs because it’s quick and easy to install using low-skilled labor. It is also earthquake, wind, water, and fire resistant.

All of these building systems are durable, do not create mold and insect habitats, and are recyclable. In each technique, insulating foam is almost continuous throughout the wall and roof systems, with almost no seams and joints through which air could flow.

Other uses of concrete in this home included: poured concrete floors on the first and second levels provide radiant heating to the home, concrete pavers were used for outdoor patios, Owens Corning cultured stone covers some interior walls and part of the exterior front wall, and terraced concrete masonry unit walls edge the landscaped beds.

For more information on the other features of the Near-Zero Home in Paterson, NJ, link to
Project Team
Owner: BASF Corporation
Architect: GRAD Associates
Mechanical: Steven Winter Associates, Inc.
General Contractor: Karabinchak Brothers, Inc.
Landscape Architect: Raimondi Horticultural Group, Inc.
Green Building Education: Chrisner Group
LEED Consultant: Green Ideas
Structural Insulated Panels by Insulspan
Insulated Concrete Forms by American Polysteel
Clotting Cement Finish by Monotech International