Proceed with Caution on Net-Zero Homes

You'd be forgiven for being skeptical of developer claims, given the leading role they played in history's most spectacular crash in home values. So what about the small but growing chorus promising zero-energy homes that sell for a premium?

If it were that easy to build and maintain homes that produce no carbon output but are still comfy, wouldn't the recent climate summit in Copenhagen have gone a lot more smoothly? And more to the point for would-be buyers, how much faith can you put in a claim that the house in question performs a technological miracle?

The truth is that technology exists to make affordable, pleasurable homes that emit almost no carbon. But the technology is not yet widely available or tested, so homes that claim to produce zero-energy may be relying on a lot of gimmicks.

The claim of "zero-energy" got the attention recently of the Wall Street Journal (house organ of the noted greenie Rupert Murdoch), which reported credulously about a handful of such projects, from Greenfield, Mass. (heh, heh), to Berkeley, Calif. (surprise, surprise), to -- wait for it -- Green Valley, Arizona.