The homes of our Cloverleaf Court project in Victor, ID are aiming to be the first Net Zero homes in the region. Currently they are designated DOE Zero Energy Ready and all that remains to make them Net Zero is installing solar panels to the rooftops.
We’re excited about this project because it makes six completely energy-independant home very nearly a reality in our region. We hope to change what potential buyers consider when deciding to purchase a home. How does a development in Idaho accomplish this? Read on to find out.
Why would you want a net zero or net zero ready home?
First we should explain the benefits of a zero energy home. A Net Zero or zero-energy home is essentially as efficient as a house can get, while balancing your budget, without giving up electricity altogether. Without giving up all the comforts of a regular home, a zero-energy home just does it all more efficiently, while generating enough solar electricity to cover its own low-energy needs.
Having a Net Zero or Zero Energy Ready home means that only natural/non-toxic materials are used to build your home. This is not just one of the criteria for the Zero-Energy Ready certification, but is important for any home, and is a priority of Love | Schack. We spend 90% of our lives indoors, breathing whatever the materials surrounding us are contributing. In tight buildings, it is even more critical to eliminate toxicity and bring clean, filtered air inside.
Zero energy homes are also cost effective. There is a slightly higher up-front cost in the range of 5-10%. But there is a lot of added value literally built into homes like these. Not only are these houses designed to be as healthy as possible and comfortable for your lifestyle, they are also nearly maintenance free for at least 15 years and the structure is much more resilient than a code-level home.
Every aspect of Cloverleaf Court was done with energy efficiency in mind. This includes solar orientation, windows, lighting, ventilation, hot water heaters, mini-split heating systems, double-stud framing for added insulation, air-sealing, and more. What this means for the homeowner is that their well designed home has nearly zero energy bills. Zero energy homeowners save up to tens of thousands of dollars by avoiding the typical maintenance and energy costs that a standard home would normally incur. Over the long-haul (which is actually quite short, at 5 years of ownership) the added up-front costs will have paid for themselves.
Why did Love | Schack decide to design for zero energy?
Our client came to us with a goal of giving back to the community. They wanted, initially, for these homes to be in an affordable range and we worked to simplify the design for efficiency of construction. Quality, however, was never negotiable; they wanted well-built, beautiful homes even if it required a modest price increase.
Everyone on the design team, including the developer felt that designing for Net Zero was a meaningful and attainable certification with 3rd-party inspections that would guarantee performance.
We worked with local Scott Paulson of Resource Efficient Solutions, and Brian Bennett and his daughter, Emily, of The Energy Auditor (Idaho Falls), who have performed energy modeling to confirm potential compliance - several steps above Energy Star standards.
We enjoy designing with simplicity and efficiency in mind. It was required by this budget and out of that effort came much more than one home design to be replicated six times. We developed a “Kit of Parts” that can be reconfigured or added to and rearranged to work on many different sites. If you have a site that a similar “pocket-neighborhood” would be appropriate, let us know! The concept is very easily replicable. We’re please to have received a lot of community interest in the project, both in Jackson and in Teton Valley. The builder, the realtor, and Love|Schack have all made personal investments to see this project be successful.
Are Net Zero or zero energy Ready Homes right for you?
Energy efficient homes are right for everyone! This is a win-win situation for an owner, the environment, the utility company, and the community. These homes are designed to suit a variety of potential owners, and thus there are different sizes and configurations.
Each home is based on a basic floor plan that allows the garage location to be rearranged, the home to face difference directions, and to add an additional bedroom or bonus room, while maintaining at least passive solar gain or an ideal roof for solar panels, if not both.
We envision Cloverleaf Court as a community for people of all ages and life stages: an individual in the workforce perhaps renting a spare bedroom, an elderly couple, a young family, or a professional couple with a pet. The intent is a community that serves many types of homeowners, and encourages a vibrant neighborhood.
We took care to ensure that everyone has some space for gear: bikes, car, kayaks, lawn-mowers. And especially that the common area in the center remained an open space that can be used in a variety of ways: as a garden or combination of individual gardens, a play area with access to the creek but within view so kids could be watched while playing. Each home has an associated lot that can be landscaped as desired.
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