Fink-Simko Zero Net Energy Deep Energy Retrofit

Project Subtitle: 

Melrose, MA

Project Description: 

After shivering for 20 winters inside their drafty 1576 sq ft 1945 Garrison Colonial in Melrose, MA, owners David Fink and Barbara Simko requested a MassSave energy audit. The auditor stated that the house would be an excellent candidate for the National Grid DER program. Thus began their journey towards zero net energy.

The owners initially planned to remodel the house by replacing the kitchen and building an addition. Working with architect Steve Baczek and energy efficiency specialist Mike Duclos, the design gradually evolved via the National Grid DER program to one that did not add square footage. Instead, the project focused on energy efficiency, making super-insulation improvements per DER guidelines, lowering window heat loss, increasing window solar gain, and recovering living space occupied by obsolete mechanical systems.

The super-insulated all-electric DER renovation home includes full envelope insulation and air sealing, high solar gain triple pane windows, new doors, and new heating and ventilation equipment. The chimney and existing oil fired steam heating system were removed and replaced by two mini-split air source heat pumps. The existing gas hot water heater was replaced by an electric heat pump water heater. An HRV was added to recover exhaust air heat and provide adequate ventilation. A drain water heat recovery heat exchanger was installed in the basement to recover heat energy normally lost down the shower drains. Because the southern facing main roof was ideal for PV, a high efficiency PV array was added to solar power the house to reach the zero net energy goal. The project was completed in October 2013.

The DER project was one of six NESEA ZNEBA finalists in March 2015. For a 1 year time period starting on Jan 7th of 2014, actual performance exceeded zero net energy. Measured performance was:

9103 kWh - PV Energy Production (=100%)

8395 kWh - House Energy Usage (=92.2% of PV Production)

0708 kWh - Net Energy Surplus to Grid (=7.8% of PV Production)

Building Type Summary: 

Single-family residence


85 Laurel St
Melrose, MA 02176
United States



Lat. / Long.: 

POINT (-71.054738 42.454879)

Location Type: 


Köppen Climate Type: 


Climate Region: 

Zone 5

Solar Insolation: 

4.47 kWh/m2/day

Annual HDD : 


Annual CDD: 


HDD Base Temp: 

68 deg F

CDD Base Temp: 

75 deg F

Occupancy Type and Details: 

Two primary occupants spend 342 days per year at residence.

Number of stories: 


Conditioned Floor Area: 

2 706

Conditioned Building Volume: 

18 210

Semiconditioned Floor Area: 


Unconditioned Floor Area: 


Multiple buildings?: 


Completion date: 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Site description: 

Site is 60 ft wide x 100 ft long with a measured annual solar access average of 87% using Solmetric SunEye. One ash tree on the back southern boundary blocks some sunlight and a very large oak tree on a neighbor's property to the east blocks some additional early morning light from the PV in the summer.


Two layers of recycled 3 inch polyiso obtained from other buildings was used on the DER roof to save funds and recycle materials. Bricks from chimney were saved and will be used as a garden edging or material for a patio. Rather than replacement, the original garage carriage doors were repaired and insulated with donated Spaceloft and 2 inch thick pink XPS.

Energy Highlights: 

GFX G4-40 drain heat recovery system recovered heat from drain water in both showers. Efficiency is a measured 65% for a balanced flow plumbing arrangement at 1 GPM though center 4 inch copper tube and 1 GPM through the pre-heat helical copper coil tube. The GFX is currently not plumbed for balance flow and preheats only the cold water stream that flows directly into the hot water heater. As a result, when a mix of cold and hot is demanded at the shower, the center pipe flow is higher than the pre-heat tube flow and therefore unbalanced. The efficiency of the unit can be raised by replumbing to a balanced flow arrangement where the cold side water drawn at the shower head also goes though the GFX. The plan is to replumb to a balanced flow arrangement some time in the future to get the maximum efficiency and heat recovery.

HERS Index: 


Annual renewable energy generated: 

9 103

Electric Utility Company: 

National Grid

Gas Utility Company: 


Datasets and Utility Bills sources and reliability: 

Annual production value is metered and represents gross production from PV array.

Electricity amount (credited or exported to grid): 


Natural gas amount (purchased energy): 


Subslab assembly: 

2 in XPS rigid foam (R-5/in) over existing concrete slab with drain mat below + 3/4 in plywood (R-1.25/in) flooring above.

Foundation wall assembly: 

2 in of XPS rigid foam (R-5/in) + 2 in of polyiso rigid foam (R-6.5/in), 3 in closed cell spray foam on rim joists, 0.4 in Spaceloft (R-10.3/in) used instead of polyiso near stairway to reduce thickness and maintain reasonable stair width

Above grade wall assembly: 

4 in of polyiso rigid foam (R-6.5/in) on exterior + 3.5 in of blown cellulose (R-3.4/in) in original wall cavities + 3/4 in plywood (R-1.25 /in) sheathing + 0.75 inch dead air space (R-1.0/in) + 0.5 inch gypsum board (R-0.9/in) + 5/16 in cement board siding (R-0.48/in)

Door Area: 


Space heating - Manufacturer & Model: 

Mitsubishi Mini Split MUZ-FE09NA (Outside) / MSZ-FE09NA (Inside)

Space heating - capacity: 


Space cooling - Manufacturer & Model: 

Mitsubishi Mini Split MUZ-FE09NA (Outside) / MSZ-FE09NA (Inside)

Space cooling - capacity: 


Domestic hot water - Manufacturer & Model: 


Domestic hot water - capacity: 


Ventilation - Manufacturer & Model: 

Zehnder CA-350, 87% efficiency, measured balanced flow 61/95/155 cfm

Finances Description: 

PV cost including installation and roof reinforcement $42,594
Total cost without incentives including PV and site prep $408,874
Total incentives $61,215
Owner Cost $347,659
Conditioned Floor Area 2706 sf
Owner Cost / Floor area $128.5/sf

Total Cost of Project: 

347 659

Construction hard cost: 

347 659

Gross Cost of Renewable Energy System: 

42 594

Value of Tax Credits for renewable energy systems: 

13 778

Net Cost of renewable energy systems: 

28 816

Cost breakdown info.: 

Federal incentives: 

$12778.00 Federal Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit for PV System
$500.00 Federal Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit for Energy Efficient Windows

State incentives: 

$1000.00 from MA for PV system

Utility incentives: 

$1000.00 from National Grid for Heat Pump Water Heater
$45937.00 from National Grid for DER Incentive Payments

NESEA Awards: 

ZNEBA Finalist 2015

Published References: 

Special architectural measures: 

The R-8 high solar gain Schuco triple pane windows used are passive house certified.

Energy Strategies: 

ZNE / DER Strategy
• Transition to all electric house
• Super insulate per DER rules
• Focus on energy efficiency
• Optimize floor plan without adding floor area to lower cost
• Recover space occupied by obsolete systems
• Remove chimney and two fireplaces
• Move top thermal boundary from attic floor to roof
• Employ full envelope insulation and super tight air sealing
• Use high R value & high solar gain windows
• Utilize heat pump based heating/cooling equipment
• Ventilate and recover waste heat with efficient HRV
• Recover shower drain water waste heat with heat exchanger
• Use induction stove, efficient appliances, LED & CFL lights
• Use roof mounted high efficiency PV to reach ZNE

Energy Use and Production Documentation: 

Subslab R-value: 


Foundation wall R-value: 


Above grade wall R-value: 


Average window U-factor: 


Solar Heat Gain Coefficient: 


Visible Light Transmittance: 


Door U-Factor: 


Cost per square foot of Conditioned Space: 


Air Changes per hour, ACH50: 


Number of Bathrooms: 


Scope Description: 

Project was a zero net energy DER complete renovation effecting all rooms. Insulation was added per National Grid DER requirements. Oil steam heating system was replaced with air source heat mini-split heatpumps to heat and cool the house. The original chimney was removed. The gas water heater was replaced by a heat pump water heater and the gas stove was replaced with an electric induction stove. A drain heat recovery system was added to recover shower drain heat. Kitchen was relocated over garage, dining room was enlarged, and both bathrooms were renovated. Garage door walls and garage door were also insulated. High solar gain low heat loss triple pane Argon filled windows replaced original windows. 7.35 kW PV array added to solar power the house to achieve net zero energy.

Site conditions: 

previously developed land
preexisting structure(s)

Renewable Energy Sources: 

Renewable energy is generated within the building footprint (e.g. solar PV on the roof)

Other Purchased Fuels Description: 


Summary of enclosure strategy/description: 

The building envelope meets National Grid DER pilot house guidelines.

Roof Assembly: 

Two 3 in polyiso rigid foam layers (R-6.5/in) + 5.5 in of blown cellulose (R-3.4/in) in roof rafter pockets + two 3/4 in plywood (R-1.25/in) sheathing layers + Asphalt shingles (R-0.44)

Roof R-value: 


Window Description: 

R-8 Schuco SI82 U-PVC tilt & turn casement

Door Description: 

2 First Floor Entry Doors - Fiberglass, Therma-Tru, R-4, R-5.3
2 Basement Entry Fire Doors - Fiberglass, Therma Tru, R-7.1 base door
On basement doors, added 0.4 in Spaceloft (R-10.3/in) + 2.0 in XPS (R-5/in) to achieve R-21.2
Door average Rval = 7.4
Door average U = 1/7.4 = 0.14

Mechanical Equipment Installation Details and Comments: 

Blower door testing done both before and after DER completion to measure effect of air sealing measures.
CFM50 ACH50 EqLA(CFM/sq ft of enclosure)
Pre DER 2798 10.32 0.66
Post DER 434 1.43 0.09

Number of Bedrooms: 


Project Team: 

Mechanical Engineer

Team Member: 

David Fink
Energy Consultant

Team Member: 

Michael Duclos
Energy Consultant

Team Member: 

Paul Eldrenkamp

Team Members: 

Barbara Simko
Interior Designer

Steven Baczek

Dave Legg, Oliver Klein, Marie McMahon
National Grid
Deep Energy Retrofit Program Sponsor

Gary Bergeron, David Joyce, Alex Cheimets, Brad King
Synergy Construction

Mark Durrenberger, Jonathan Williams
New England Clean Energy
PV Installer

Patrik Muzilla
European Architectural Supply
High Performance Windows

Barry Stephenson, Aubrey Gewehr
Zehnder America
HRV & Ventilation

Honorata Loomis
Building Science Corporation
Energy Consultant

Brian Tierney
Energy Consultant

James Cobb
VP / Branch Manager
Eastern Bank
Home Equity Loan, Heat Loan

Ashley Sullivan
Heat Loan

Victor Fink



Zero Net Energy Definition Used: 

Site Energy Use

Basis of Performance Claim: 


Type of Construction: 


Renewable Energy System Type(s): 


Renewable Energy System Description & Details: 

PV is a 7.35 kW SunPower E19/245 3 x 10 array with Enphase M210 microinverters. This array was installed by New England Clean Energy and was officially connected to the grid and generating power on Jan 8, 2013. As of Aug 5, 2015, the PV array has generated 23633 kWh or 9148 kWh average per year over 31 months with no maintenance activities. For a one year period starting on Jan 8, 2014, the PV system generated 9103 kWh with 708 kWh sent to the grid and 8395 kWh sent to the house.

Annual Renewable Energy Generated Data Type: 


Source of Annual Production Data: 

Annual production value is metered and represents gross production from PV array.

Space Heating - Efficiency (e.g., 92 AFUE): 

COP=3.0,17 F out, 70 F in

Space Cooling - Efficiency (e.g., 16 SEER): 

COP=4.5, 80 F in,95 F out

Air Changes per hour, CFM50: 


Days per year Building is fully occupied: 


Submitter Contact Email: 

Submitter Contact Phone Number: 

(781) 665-2628

Project Type: 

Zero Energy

Indoor Environment Description: 

Heat, cool, & dehumidify with two air source mini-split heat pumps Ventilate whole house and filter air with HRV in attic Dehumidify basement in summer with heat pump water heater