Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Carbon Neutral Project Set For Grasonville

CBEC praises 'environmentally responsible growth'


GRASONVILLE A new waterfront residential development in Grasonville will be the first "carbon neutral" community in Maryland according to developers Jody Schulz of Shore Land Ventures, LLC and Paul Zanecki of Nexus EnergyHomes.

Osprey Pointe at Pierson Corner Road and MD Route 18 just east of the Kent Narrows, is designed to produce as much energy as it uses creating a neutral carbon footprint for the entire project.

"We're focused on reducing the carbon footprint in the built environment and helping reduce the demand for fossil fuels and dependence on foreign oil supplies," said Zanecki, president of Nexus EnergyHomes of Annapolis.

The concept plan, approved by the county planning commission on Nov. 12, includes 11 single family homes, a duplex, open space and common areas. Zanecki explained that while the community may use energy from the grid, it will also provide energy to the grid netting a zero balance at year's end.

Although Zanecki is working on a net zero urban renewal project in Frederick County called North Pointe that will break ground before Osprey, renewable energy was not applied to common areas there, whereas Osprey Pointe is an entire net zero community including common areas, street lighting, pool area and gatehouse, he said.

The developers will use sustainable building techniques and are seeking National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Emerald certification, which is the highest level for residential green building, and Platinum certification, the highest level available from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

"Osprey Pointe will meet extraordinary environmental standards within its walls, and with advanced land management techniques, outside its walls," said Zanecki.

The project, entirely inside the 100 year floodplain, includes technology to manage nearly 100 percent of water runoff.

"Land and storm water runoff management will include rain harvesting, underground storm water cisterns, gray water irrigation and extensive native plantings which, combined, will manage nearly 100 percent of water runoff at the site," said Zanecki.

While the energy consumption for the project is considered carbon neutral, Zanecki said the industry has not yet developed building techniques to establish a completely neutral impact but sustainable building techniques come close.

The concept of sustainable building incorporates a variety of strategies during the design, construction and build. The use of green building materials, water conservation and enhanced air quality are included in the considerations, according to Zanecki.

"With advanced air filtration, ventilation and energy recovery systems, the air inside the homes will be akin to a "clean room," which may be particularly important for the many people suffering from respiratory problems," said Zanecki.

The homes will operate from solar and hydrothermal technology and will be constructed of green materials, defined as renewable resources in "Green Building Materials: A Guide to Product Selection and Specification," by Spielel and Meadows, 1999.

According to the Guide, green materials are environmentally responsible due to impact considerations over the life of the product including the environment in which the product originated, was manufactured, will be used in, and its future recycling potential.

The developers said they are working with their neighbor, the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center to improve run off, choose aquatic plantings and to benefit from CBEC's expertise in sustainable building on a similar piece of property.

In January of 2008, CBEC obtained LEED Certification on their new education building and conference center which uses renewable energy and sustainable materials.

In a letter distributed at the Nov 12 meeting, CBEC Restoration Manager, Vicki Paulas highlighted Osprey Pointe's attributes and said she hopes the development will serve as a model for future standards in the county.

"This will be the first development that promotes 100 percent sustainable and environmentally responsible growth within Queen Anne's County," said Paulas.

The proposed construction showcases "green building materials/techniques, Net Zero energy consumption and gray water utilization, all of which ultimately help protect the bay while providing residents with a green living lifestyle," she said.

Jody Schulz, president of Shore Land Ventures, LLC, said he is excited to bring the project to his community and he hopes to break ground in the spring.

"With what we know today about the effects of carbon emissions, responsible development must include utilizing renewable energy and energy conservation in all our building plans," said Schultz, who noted commercial potential as well.

"I am currently working with Nexus to incorporate this technology into commercial development with the Fisherman's Village project at Kent Narrows," said Schulz. "I am also working towards a partnership that would bring a 65 person assisted living facility and child day care center to Kent Island that would also incorporate this technology."

Friday, August 27, 2010

‘Green Village' Project Begins at Former Public Housing Complex

Duplex homes planned for downtown Frederick are part of federal HOPE VI program

by Katherine Heerbrandt Staff Writer

Touting itself as the first "net zero energy infill community in the nation," Frederick city's North Pointe development has already attracted four potential buyers, even though the homes won't be built until later next year.

The 55 duplex homes are part of the federally funded HOPE VI redevelopment of a former public housing complex on Frederick's North Bentz Street that was razed in 2006. Net zero refers to the home's ability to produce as much energy as it uses, resulting in significant energy savings over time.

"They are so excited about it," said Mike Murphy of Nexus Energy Homes. "They have been waiting in the wings for this to come to fruition. We had people jumping at it the first week we said we were going to take reservation deposits."

Reservation deposits are $1,000, and buyers can choose carpeting and other features. Selling a home site unseen is not easy, said Mike Muren of Mackintosh Realtors. He and a team of three are working to market the green village. While people are fascinated by the concept of a net zero home, he said, "it's difficult to sell a home you can't walk through." A model home will be available for viewing in spring 2011.

The market rate home prices range from $299,000 to $343,000. Twelve of them are earmarked for qualified public housing residents, with mortgage assistance from the Frederick Housing Authority to lower the monthly payments. Mike Muren of Mackintosh Realtors is selling the homes. Buyers can qualify for more than $16,000 in green tax credits. The homes feature geothermal heating and cooling systems and solar panels and are designed to produce as much energy as they use, thus the "net zero" moniker. But the amount of savings depends on the homeowner, Murphy said.

"We would love to say you will save $400 a month, but we can't guarantee it because we can't control people's usage. We give homeowners the tools to go to net zero," he said. Maryland is one of the biggest importers of energy in the country, Murphy said, and there are no solid plans to increase energy production in state. Investing in a net zero home has the potential for exponential savings in the coming years as energy costs increase, he said.

The colonial style homes are three stories high, and range from three to four bedrooms. They feature Energy Star appliances, insulated doors and double pane windows, and will be rated LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council. The green village is the first to be built by Nexus Energy Homes, who have partnered with The Frederick Housing Authority and the Department of Housing and Urban Development developer TGC/V.

Nexus is also partnering with Frederick Community College's construction management program. Murphy, a builder by trade, said the North Pointe construction will serve as a learning center for FCC students. "We're going to have a lot of fun with the students, bringing them in and teaching them methods that are so much better for the environment."

The project also has a few local investors and is working with Sandy Spring Bank to do construction financing. "We want to keep it as local as possible," Murphy said.

The City of Frederick obtained a HOPE VI grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2002 under then-mayor Jennifer Dougherty. The city had tried twice previously but was unsuccessful in securing the grant. Dougherty credits Sen. Barbara Milkuski (D) with providing the necessary assistance to secure the grant, which was designed to rid the country of the worst of its aging public housing developments.

Residents of the former Hanson-Taney complex were relocated through Section 8 vouchers; others went to other city public housing developments. Only one family of the 146 displaced has returned to the rental housing that's been built so far on the site.