Want to buy a solar-powered condo? Developer Clarum Homes has just completed the "Vista Montana" community in Watsonville, California (in central California, east of Monterey). Vista Montana has the nation's largest building-integrated solar electric system in an apartment complex, a 60 kW system projected to produce over 90 megawatt-hours annually. The units were constructed to use 40 percent less energy than would otherwise be typical.
The program includes the installation of tightly sealed ductwork, a high-efficiency heating and ventilation system, and smart glass windows. Hydronic heating units were used to achieve energy efficiency through the combined function of heating both the water and the living space.
Clarum specializes in green residential projects, and its "Enviro-Home" claims at least a 90% reduction in energy costs. Clarum built an all-Enviro-Home community in Watsonville in 2003 (called, oddly, Vista Montaña -- note the tilde, which apparently denotes single-family units), and has energy-efficient and solar-power homes in its other developments. The specs do sound good -- integrated solar electric, on-demand water heater, super-efficient windows, etc. -- and the home designed received the Zero Energy Home (PDF) designation from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
As the NREL document shows, Clarum is not the only green home builder out there. But there aren't many -- and that's a shame. As the EPA's draft inventory of greenhouse gas emissions (and Green Car Congress' excellent summary) shows, CO2 emissions coming from fossil fuel used for power generation for residences grew at a rate of 12.3% from 1990-2003, compared to growth by 12.1% for commercial buildings and 10.2% for transportation (CO2 from industrial power generation actually declined by 7.6% in the same period). CO2 from transportation remains the highest absolute contributor. We focus quite a bit on green design for commercial buildings, but we need that same attention paid to green design for residences.
Where's the "Green House Congress" website?
Any suggestions for websites dedicated to collecting and analyzing information for energy efficient home design, construction and modification?
Hopefully 10-15 years from now, Zero Enery Homes will be more commonplace and "Positive Energy" homes will be in the news.
Imagine the real estate ad... 3 bedroom, 2 bath, $100/month in energy income.
There's probably some good stuff here:
I PLAN ON BULDING A HOME ON MY LAND IN VIRGINA CITY NV HIGHLANDS. I WOULD LIKE TO BUILD ONE OF THESE TYPE OF HOMES THERE, PLEASE SEND MORE INFORMATION, I BELEVE THIS WHAT WE NEED FOR THE FUTURE.
It is too big and too conventional and the two car garage epitomizes the problem- ultimately we actually do have to look at the way we live, not just the way we build.
Actauly that house looks rather small and the garage looks small and short too.
I'd think Treehugger or Metaefficient would fit the bill for consumer-friendly (i.e.: not necessarily design-oriented) sites that you're looking for Jamais - but I'm assuming you already know about those?
I have a section in my own blog devoted to "Sustainable Homes (Residential)," or, you can view just the links that I've posted on this topic in the "Sustainable Homes Link Digest" to get some more ideas.