Quantcast
Business

California's First Zero Net Energy Community Is a Model for Future Living

In a new effort to slash energy consumption and carbon emissions, southern California's North Fontana area will be home to the state's first Zero Net Energy (ZNE) community consisting of at least 20 new highly efficient homes.

Sierra Crest, California's first zero net energy community, aims to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in the state. Photo Credit: Meritage Homes

The community, called Sierra Crest, is currently in development and is a project led by the nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), as well as homebuilders Meritage Homes, BIRAenergy, Itron, Southern California Edison and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

About 41 percent of the country's total energy consumption comes from residential and commercial buildings, which is why net-zero buildings are brilliant—they produce at least as much energy as it uses (if not much more).

California's newest ZNE homes, designed by 2015 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Meritage Homes, will feature solar panels, HVAC systems, water heating equipment, heat pumps and integrated fresh air ventilation. The dwellings will also have spray foam insulation, highly insulated windows, energy-efficient lighting, smart chargers and smart appliances. These homes will be connected to the grid to help absorb surplus solar energy generated by the panels during the day and also provide power if the homes run out of juice.

It's estimated that all these bells and whistles will curb energy use by as much as 60 percent compared to a house built to the latest California Energy Code.

California set a "Big Bold Goal" in 2008 that called for all new houses in the state to be ZNE by 2020. Additionally, by 2030, the state wants all new commercial construction to be ZNE and 50 percent of existing commercial buildings to be retrofit to ZNE.

Over the next several years, the project team will study how these pilot houses and their advanced technologies can be integrated into the central utility's electric system, and investigate these homes' scalability and economic feasibility across the state.

“There are several ZNE homes throughout California, but none clustered at one community,” CR Herro, vice president of environmental affairs at Meritage Homes told Renewable Energy World. “This community not only allows the value of operation cost reduction to the homeowners, but provides much needed data to the utilities about [kilowatt] production and demand at each home, and cumulatively at the transformer level to provide needed data to design service for community level Zero Energy as California building code progresses toward this standard.”

The houses, which range from 1,936 square feet to 2,915 square feet, have a starting price around the high $300,000, Renewable Energy World reported. It's said that six of these homes will be ready for purchase by this summer.

"This project represents an ideal site and an ideal team to evaluate the effectiveness of energy efficient housing, equipment and appliances," said Ram Narayanamurthy, EPRI project manager. "The data that are collected will likely guide future developments of zero net energy housing in California and elsewhere and how they integrate into the electric system."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Incredible Photos: Is This Tiny Cabin Micro-Community the Future of Sustainable Living?

Eco-Classroom of the Future Is Here Today

France Mandates New Roofs Must Be Covered in Solar Panels or Plants

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Renewable Energy
Denver will get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. Robert Kash / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Denver to Go 100 Percent Renewable by 2030

Denver became the 73rd city in the U.S. to commit to 100 percent renewable energy when Mayor Michael Hancock announced the goal in his State of the City speech Monday, The Denver Post reported.

The commitment is part of the city's larger 80×50 Climate Action Plan unveiled by Hancock Tuesday, which seeks to reduce Denver's greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2050.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
The Power Shift 2011 rally targeted primarily the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for using its money and influence to stop climate and clean energy legislation. Linh Do, CC BY 2.0

Fossil Fuel Industry Outspent Environmentalists and Renewables by 10:1 on Climate Lobbying, New Study Finds

By Itai Vardi

Industry sectors based on fossil fuels significantly outspent environmental groups and renewable energy companies on climate change lobbying, new research has found.

In a study published Wednesday in the journal Climatic Change, Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle shows that between 2000 and 2016, lobbyists spent more than $2 billion trying to influence climate legislation in the U.S. Congress.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Pexels

Is Your Popcorn Laced With Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals?

By Kathryn Alcantar and Jose Bravo / Independent Media Institute

No one should be exposed to toxic chemicals in their food, particularly children. But that's exactly what the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found in tests of microwave popcorn bags sold in Dollar Stores. These stores are frequented by communities of color and millions of poor Americans.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
The Washington Post / Contributor / Getty Images

Climate Change May Stimulate the Chesapeake’s Blue Crab Population

By Amy Mcdermott

Jason McElwain isn't afraid of a pinch. He reached calmly into a basket of live crabs one Friday this June, and kept his cool even when a claw clamped down hard on his finger. "You get used to it after a while," he said, then yanked the crab off and tossed it into a plastic bin.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Pexels

A Brief History of the Feral Blackberry

By Sara Bir

Blackberries are perhaps the best known of all foraged wild fruits. Whether they grow modestly on the perimeters of a ramshackle farm or thrive ruthlessly along the banks of a forgotten creek, there are hundreds of hidden wild blackberry havens waiting for opportunistic berry fanatics.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Joshua Tree National Park now has more unsafe ozone days than New York City. atramos / CC BY 2.0

Air Pollution in National Parks as Bad as 20 Largest U.S. Cities

A new study shows the importance of clean air regulations to prevent air pollution from reaching national parks.

A study published in Science Advances Wednesday found that, between 1990 and 2014, the ozone concentrations in 33 of the largest and most visited national parks were statistically indistinguishable from the ozone concentrations in the 20 largest U.S. cities.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Halliburton getting ready to frack in the Bakken formation, which underlies North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Joshua Doubek / CC BY-SA 3.0

Zinke’s Real Estate Deal With Halliburton Chair to Be Investigated

Ousted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt isn't the only polluter-friendly Trump appointee with sketchy ethics.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!