Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Green Home Development Opens in Frederick

55 zero-energy houses will inhabit area that once was location of 146 public housing units

by Tripp laino, Staff Writer

Dozens of Frederick residents and city officials attended the grand opening for Nexus Energy Homes new zero-energy housing on Friday. The North Pointe community is located at the intersection of Bentz and Lord Nickens Streets.

People searching for a way to save on utility bills won’t have to look far in Frederick, now that the first green home development is open for business.
Located along Bentz Street, the North Pointe development features 55 zero-energy homes built by Nexus Energy Homes. The houses were showcased Friday at a ceremony with dozens of residents, city and state officials present.

Kevin Lollar, the director of development for the Housing Authority of the city of Frederick, called the new home’s design, “the house of the future.”

This site, HOPE VI, is about vision,” he said. It’s about doing something different with housing. … If we don’t reduce our carbon footprint, our carbon footprint is going to reduce us.”

We want to change the paradigm of what a home is and the way it performs,” he said.

“…Anyone would want to live here. It’s a home that’s simply superior [to] anything else on the market.”

Four of the homes have been sold already. Barbara Dillon, who attended the grand opening, is one of the new owners, and said she currently lives in Montgomery County with her husband, Joseph. She said they were “empty nesters” looking to relocate, but didn’t have green energy in mind until discovering the development. “We never would have looked at a townhouse if not for the green energy,” she said. “…We didn’t even know it existed, and found it looking at the housing available.”

The homes have a myriad of environmentally friendly features, including resource conservation, such as power and water, and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

Part of the funding for the homes came via a $70,000 grant from the Maryland Clean Energy Center. The program was one of 10 elected by the center to receive funding assistance supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy through the Maryland Energy Administration.

The grant was called a "pass through" grant by Richard Griffin, Frederick's director of economic development, during a public meeting March 17. In effect, the city receives a $70,000 grant which it then gives to Nexus Energy for constructing the homes. After the homes are sold, the company repays the grant to the Maryland Clean Energy Center by setting aside a portion of each home sold, and the grant money is given to start another green project.

According to a press release announcing the grant, the homes have solar and geothermal power generation, smart operating systems and energy efficient materials to generate as much or more energy than the home consumes, creating a "net-zero" demand on local energy supplies. In the case of excess energy, the power is sold back to the utility company.

Paul Zanecki, president of Nexus Energy Homes, based in Stevensville, praised the efforts of the city in bringing grant money to the group, and said the new homes would change the way people thought about green energy homes.

The geothermal system uses a closed loop that passes a refrigerant into the ground, where the temperature is a constant 57 degrees. It is then brought through the system into the house, where it is used to raise or lower the room temperature.
Green homes cost more to build, but the price of the Nexus homes are on par with average home prices in Frederick city according to Zanecki. A flyer distributed at the grand opening listed the home’s starting price at $230,000 after tax credits and energy savings. Zanecki said the homes are within five to seven percent of their traditionally built counterparts, but that some of that cost can be made up by tax credits.

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