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Want to build a net-zero home? You can download these blueprints for free

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HomeNZ is a competition-winning design that’s all about insulation

Rendering of a low-slung modern house with a white facade and a garage behind translucent screens. Desert climate plants are in the front yard. Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects

The fifth largest city in the U.S. bound by a hot and arid desert, Phoenix, Arizona, has been working hard to become a leader in sustainable development.

In 2016, the city laid out an ambitious goal to become carbon neutral and waste free by 2050. One outgrowth of that pledge was a competition led by the American Institute of Architects’ Arizona chapter, which asked local design shops to create blueprints for a net-zero home that anyone could use free of cost.

Now, the winner of the competition, Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects, is making good on that promise and offering up plans for its sustainable home design for free.

Imirzian’s 2,100-square-foot HomeNZ is a modern three-bedroom house with an impressively low energy rating. The competition required all submissions to have a Home Energy Rating System score (HERS) of 30 or less (the lower the better, and the average home clocks in at 100 HERS). HomeNZ’s score is zero.

Rendering of an open living room with white walls, white sofa and coffee table, and a corner with floor to ceiling windows on both sides. Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects

So how did the designers mitigate energy usage under Phoenix’s hot and sunny conditions? It’s all about insulation. The architects started with the building envelope, which creates a continuous barrier to bolster insulation, prevent air leaks, and reduce energy usage. “[The] walls and roof insulation and underslab is really a continuous volume approach,” Imirzian told Fast Company.

The home’s windows are clad in high-performance glass that prevents the transferring of heat and feature retractable fabric screens to block out 95 percent of direct sunlight. Meanwhile, the solar chimney’s damper automatically opens and closes depending on the weather.

The house should cost around $344,000 to build, but it can be tweaked to fit people’s specific preferences. You can download the construction plans here.