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A cut-away look inside the U.S. Commerce Department�s NIST new net-zero laboratory. REUTERS/Building Science Corporation

U.S. net-zero lab: all the comforts of home, except people

By Deborah Zabarenko | 17 September 2012

(Reuters) – Perched on a hilltop outside Washington, the U.S. government’s net-zero energy laboratory looks a lot like the luxury houses nearby, with two significant differences: it will make as much energy as it uses, and only sensors, not people, live in it.

Designed to fit in a typical residential neighborhood, the 4,000 square foot (372 square metre) net-zero lab on the suburban campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology is so energy-efficient that over the course of a year it is expected to produce as much energy as it needs.

Its total energy consumption should be “net zero.”

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Climate and Energy