Saturday, June 18, 2011
Net-Zero Energy House Seen as Model for the Future
By Ed Waters Jr.
Photo by Bill Green
The model home of the new "net-zero" project that are part of the Hope VI program North Pointe off North Bentz Street.
A net-zero community in Frederick should be a model for the nation, said several speakers on Friday at the opening of North Pointe in Downtown Frederick.
Part of the Hope VI program, North Pointe off North Bentz Street will contain 55 dwellings, all designed to use little if any energy.
"It is all about vision," said Kevin Lollar, director of development for the Housing Authority of Frederick.
Lollar said state Sen. Ron Young had brought Paul Zanecki, CEO of Nexus EnergyHomes, to the Housing Authority Office to talk about a potential net-zero community in the city. Young said he had initially envisioned the project at the east end of the city, where development is planned.
"That wasn't ready," Young said of the area around the relatively new section of South East Street. Young said he would still like to see that area become self-sustaining when built up.
But the area off North Bentz Street, which formerly housed low-income housing, was seen as the perfect site for the new community.
Elected officials, builders and interested buyers toured the model house at 620 N. Bentz St. The 2,750-square-foot house has insulation and a structure that make the building quiet, efficient and well-constructed. Although listed for nearly $278,000, the house would sell for $264,900 with energy tax credits and incentives. Four buyers have already put down deposits on future houses.
The house uses solar panels that blend into the roof, geothermal heating and cooling, and a high-tech system that allows control of climate and security using an iPhone or laptop.
Zanecki said the air in the house is exchanged every 48 minutes to keep it clean from pollutants and other potential effects on health.
Over the years, people have built net-zero energy homes, but they were "spaceship" houses, Zanecki said. "They were built for an individual. What I had the vision of was for homes affordable to the general consumer."
Financing was a major hurdle, Zanecki said. The project is funded primarily through investors, though at a brief ceremony Friday morning the project was presented a check for $70,000 from the Maryland Clean Energy Commission.
Donald Briggs, an appraiser and member of the county's Sustainability Committee, appraised the house. He said besides the durability of construction, he included the net savings in energy in adjusting the affordability of the house.
Zanecki said his company worked with the National Association of Home Builders, following the organization's green standards guidelines. The model house, as will all of the homes, will meet Emerald Standards for energy, the highest level of efficiency, based on the association's research center criteria.
"We are changing the dynamics of what a house is, and we can visualize the streetscape of the future," Zanecki said.