William Maclay - Vermont Architects and Planners
Choices in Sustainability
Net Zero Overview

Daylighting Interior - Putney Field House - Putney VT - Maclay Architects Net-zero carbon, net-zero cost, net-zero source, net-zero site, near net-zero, net-zero ready...there are many terms used to describe a certain category of buildings that are referred to as "net-zero energy buildings" (or NZEBs). These buildings are gaining increasing interest as concerns about energy costs and climate change mount. We've developed this section of our website for those interested in learning more about net-zero buildings and have included case studies for net-zero projects our firm has worked on and links to other resources.

Buildings use a tremendous amount of energy to operate and are a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions. The goal of net-zero building design is to minimize energy use first through energy efficiency and then meet any remaining energy needs with on-site renewable energy systems. Over the course of a year, these buildings will produce as much energy as they consume. Because they rely primarily on renewable energy sources, net-zero buildings can protect building owners against rising energy costs and minimize a building’s impact on the environment.

There are a handful of net-zero energy buildings that exist today and many more on the drawing boards, but they represent an exciting and growing segment in green building design. By building smarter and improving the performance of our existing buildings, we will make great strides in addressing the environmental, economic and energy challenges we currently face. We hope you find this section of our site informative and it makes your quest for net-zero living a little easier.

The New Net Zero

3dBook 150
The New Net Zero: Leading-Edge Design and Construction of Homes and Buildings for a Renewable Energy Future:

This book charts a path for designers and builders interested in exploring green design's new frontier: net-zero-energy structures that produce as much energy as they consume, using only renewable energy sources. Read more...


The New Net Zero has taken first place in the "Professional Illustrated" category at the New England Book Show!


"Great trim size, modern, clean feel, timeless and classic typography. Technical illustrations have a wonderful clarity. Great attention to all the design details.      Beautiful  book!"  

...New England Book Show judges commentary


Net-Zero Case Studies

Gardens Exterior Net Zero - Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens - Boothbay ME - Maclay ArchitectsCoastal Maine Botanical Gardens:
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens wanted to construct a new educational center adjacent to their existing visitor’s center to house both administrative office space as well as flexible and adaptable classroom space that could also be used for various events and gatherings. The building needed to establish a strong connection to the outdoors and the neighboring botanical gardens. The client also set out strict environmental guidelines from the beginning of the project, requiring the building to have minimal energy loads and be both LEED Platinum certified and net-zero. Read more…

Putney Flex Studio - Putney Field House - Putney VT - Maclay ArchitectsPutney Field House:
This recently completed 16,800 square foot addition to The Putney (VT) School was designed to meet the School's growing needs for high quality sports, wellness and social spaces. The challenge was designing a building that would integrate with the existing campus and character of the local Putney community. The result: A super-efficient athletic and wellness center that doubles as a tool for learning about the school's core values of environmental based learning and sustainability. The field house, Vermont’s first commercial net-zero building, will rely on the sun for its heating and electricity needs. Read more…

River HouseRiver House:
This net-zero home is nestled on a stone dam abutment above Vermont's Mad River. Making beautiful use of stone harvested from the site throughout its interior and in the landscape, the home connects naturally to its rustic surroundings. A super-insulated building envelope, on-site solar photovoltaics, a ground source heat pump and passive solar systems (including thermal mass) allow these homeowners to achieve their net-zero energy goals. Read more…

Dartt FarmhouseDartt Farmhouse:
This drafty 19th-century Vermont farmhouse required extensive upgrades to convert it into two super-efficient, net-zero ready rental units. Because of its location in Waitsfield’s historic district, preserving the building’s original character and charm was a priority. Read more…

LakeSun netzeroLake Sunapee Residence:
This existing dwelling was transformed into a timeless, shingle-style, net-zero home that connects to the shorefront and the beautiful views of the lake. Read more...

newton_netzeroNewton Residence:
This new, super-efficient net-zero residence blends beautifully within its traditional New England-style neighborhood located just outside of Boston. The light-filled home features a roof-mounted solar photovoltaic array and solar hot water for electricity and an air-source heat pump for its heating needs. Read more…

WMAPoffice_netzeroMaclay Architects Office:
Maclay Architects renovated an historic Waitsfield village building into a net-zero office space. This deep energy retrofit included the addition of R-40+ wall, R-60+ roof insulation and R-5 windows. The building utilizes an air source heat pump for both heating and cooling. Heat recovery ventilation and ceiling fans further reduce total energy consumption. Read more…

putneyres_netzeroPutney Residence:
This new residence is set close to the western edge of a hay field in Putney, Vermont. The building orientation and glazing work to balance solar gain with the breathtaking eastern views of Mt. Monadnock. The house features a super-insulated envelope with double stud walls and a photovoltaic array, making the building carbon neutral. Read more…

NRG SystemsNRG Systems:
With the addition of a 140-kilowatt solar tracker farm adjacent to its property, NRG Systems became one step closer to becoming the nation's first net-zero manufacturing site. The two LEED gold-certified buildings on the Hinesburg campus of this wind measurement manufacturer were already among the most energy-efficient facilities in the nation. The campus now produces nearly 90% of its total energy—and all of its electricity—from renewables. Read more…

Net Zero Living Building Challenge LEED Platinum - Willow School Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center - Gladstone NJ - Maclay ArchitectsWillow School Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center:
This net zero building is targeted to be both LEED Platinum certified and meet the Living Building Challenge set by the Living Building Institute. Living Building certification requires several highly rigorous environmental standards including net zero energy and water consumption. Read more...

Proctor cur netzeroProctor Academy Dining Hall:
Maclay Architects is designing a new 350 seat dining hall for Proctor Academy to replace the undersized and poorly insulated existing facility located in the field house. The building design will match the aesthetics and character of the existing campus and school, while serving as a model in sustainability. Read more...

WTO netzeroWaitsfield Town Offices:
Maclay Architects is designing a new net-zero town office for the town of Waitsfield. Read more...

Vermont Healthy HomeVermont Healthy Home:
The Vermont Healthy Home Positive Energy combines healthy home technologies to optimize indoor air quality and minimize impact on the environment with innovations that allow a home to produce more energy than it uses over the course of a year—even in Vermont's cold climate. With four different design plans to choose from, our goal is to provide an inspiring place for you to live, help reduce climate change, and protect you and your family from rising energy costs. Read more…



Net Zero Energy Vermont Blog
Net Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative
Better Bricks: Bottom Line Thinking on Energy in Commercial Buildings
Efficiency Vermont
Net Zero Guide for Business
Energy Priorities: Journal & Blog
Net Zero Energy Buildings: Providing Stable Returns In An Unstable World