That house down the street that is lit up and using energy at all hours but no one is ever inside? Pay no mind, that’s just the government running some tests.

Unveiled on September 12, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) newest laboratory isn’t exactly what one would imagine a tech lab would look like. The Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) looks like a typical suburban American home complete with four bedrooms and three bathrooms except for one major difference: no humans are allowed inside, ever.

The home, located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is built to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum standards. It is a research facility put together to see if a house filled with a family of four can generate as much energy as it uses in a year and achieve net-zero energy usage status. Utilizing solar panels, solar hot water heaters, and small devices to emit heat and humidity just as people do, it is operated by remote-control using computer software and mechanical controls. Appliances and lights are turned on and off and hot water is run in faucets and showers, mimicking the activities of a typical family throughout the year. Excess energy generated by the solar panels will be fed back to the grid.

“Results from this lab will show if net-zero home design and technologies are ready for a neighborhood near you,” said NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. “It will also allow development of new design standards and test methods for emerging energy-efficient technologies and, we hope, speed their adoption.”

Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the initial net-zero experiment will last for the next 12 months. Once completed, the home will be used to test energy-efficient technologies and alternative energy systems in a real-world environment.

Check out a video of the NIST Net Zero Energy House:

[via Innovation News Daily]

Image Credit: National Institute of Standards and Technology