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Demonstration Near Net Zero Energy and Water Home Retrofit Conducted by Whirlpool Corporation at Purdue University

May 26, 2016

While it is currently understood that a home could be retrofitted to be able to produce as much as energy as its consumes, what about a net zero water efficiency home?  How would one go about making a home that produces as much water as it consumes?

To research this question the Whirlpool Corporation teamed up with a number of industry partners to retrofit a home built in the 1920s near the campus of Purdue University to be both net zero energy and water.

Eric Bowler, Senior Engineer for the Whirlpool Corporation presented the project at the recent Water Efficiency International Emerging Technology Symposium in Chicago. Mr. Bowler serves on the RESNET Water Efficiency Rating Index Guidelines Modeling and Development of Reference Home and Indoor Water Use technical working groups.

The project is called the Retrofit Net Zero: Energy. Water. Waste. (ReNEWW) House.  The project’s goal is to “provide valuable insights for our homebuilder partners and customers on technologies that enable sustainable living. We will leverage the world class facilities and collaborate with Purdue researchers to accelerate the development of the next generation of ultra-high efficiency appliances that increase core performance while lowering their impact on the environment and cost to operate.”

The first phase was a deep energy retrofit of the home.  According to Green Builder magazine at the beginning of the project the home had a HERS Index rating of 177.  The HERS Index score after the retrofit was 1.

The innovative part of the project involved water efficiency with its goal of achieving as close to a net zero water home.

Whirlpool and its research team adopted the following tenets to achieving a net zero water home:

  • Efficiency first – Reduce the water loads as much as possible by using the latest technologies in indoor water appliances
  • Renewable Water – Capture and store rain water and snow
  • Alternative Water Sources – Waste water recovery

The demonstration home has its own onsite waste water treatment system in the house to convert waste water to water that can be used for toilets and clothes washing.

The ReNeWW House has demonstrated that it can collect enough rain water and recover enough waste water to be close to the net zero water goal.

Purdue University graduate students will live in the demonstration project and monitor the home’s performance through 70 data points installed inside the home.

For information on the Whirlpool project go to http://www.renewwhouse.com

The project demonstrates the wisdom of RESNET using the HERS Index as the model for the Water Efficiency Rating Index.  In both cases “0” equates to the homes producing as much energy and water as its consumes.