Second Nature

Radiant barrier sheathing can cut attic temperatures, enabling the use of a smaller air conditioner.

Running ducts through joists rather than above or below the home's conditioned air spaces reduces the load on heaters and coolers.

The federal National Institute of Standards and Technology will open this month a new net-zero energy test house with multiple energy-saving gadgets.

Shown here is one of three geothermal systems the National Institute of Standards and Technology will use in its net-zero energy test house.

Great Expectations: When the National Association of Home Builders compiled in early 2011 survey results from 238 builders, architects, designers, and other building industry professionals, it found readily available products like windows and I-joists were the most likely green features to be put into a new single-family detached home by 2015. Here's how this group rated the prospects of using 12 potential features. ( 1=Not at all likely; 5=Very likely )

The IECC's New Standards: The 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) aims to increase thermal resistance--aka R value--by 13% to 33%, depending on the building component. What's required varies by climate zone. Here are the 2009 and 2012 IECC requirements for various parts of the house.

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