I noticed last week that the first Zero Energy home built up in Frisco, Texas (an exurb / suburb north of Dallas) was on the market. So over the Memorial Day weekend, I went up to take a look at it and see what I could learn about green building techniques.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, my company is doing a green renovation project with an existing commercial building, so I have been looking around the Dallas area to see what other people and companies are doing to see what we can learn from it and implement ourselves.
A zero energy home is designed so that it theoretically uses close to no energy from the utilities over the course of a whole year. It’s still hooked up to the electric grid just like every other house. But it also has solar panels and an extremely well insulated and efficient design that uses the amount of electricity of a house a third of its size. When you factor in the energy that the solar power generates and the the efficiency of the house, you end up with a net energy cost of running the house that is near zero dollars over a year.
The builder of this house has a web site that explains the concept in more detail.
You could write a book about all the features of this home, so I’m just going to cover some of the features that I thought were cool.
This photo was shot from an upstairs window, looking down into the back yard. You can see one of the solar panels on the roof, and you can also see one of three giant water tanks that collect rainwater for the irrigation system of the home. The home uses native and Texas-friendly landscaping that does well with low amounts of water. And then, the house uses ultra efficient drip irrigation to keep it watered. See a photo of the irrigation below.
One of the issues that most homes out in Frisco have to deal with is the oppressive Texas heat in the summer, combined with the fact that there aren’t many trees that are old enough and big enough to provide shade to the houses out there. You combine this with the typical high ceiling design, the 4,000 plus square foot footprints of a Frisco home, and some of the highest electric rates in the country, and you can imagine the monster electric bills that most Frisco residents face.
Since there were no existing trees on the lot of the zero energy home, the architect and builder designed the home in a way to take advantage of the solar orientation and the natural breezes. There is a totally awesome shaded, screened porch that would be a really nice place to spend time.
But you can also see how the builder created a lot of roof overhangs that shade the windows of the home from direct summer sunlight, while still allowing plenty of natural winter light to light up the home and keep it from looking like a cave inside.
This house is currently for sale for $750,000. It is a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom, 3,800 square feet home.
One last thing. This isn’t really related to zero energy at all, but I can’t mention Frisco real estate without mentioning my friend Geoff Davis, the Frisco mortgage broker who has helped me out several times. He works all over the Texas area, as well as covering several other states. He’s helped me finance the last four homes I have bought in Dallas, so I figure he deserves a mention.