Building and living green is becoming increasingly popular both from a financial and human perspective, and cities around the country are starting to embrace the idea of sustainability-friendly communities. As you’ll see in this list of six net-zero homes and communities in the United States, there are many ways builders go about achieving optimal sustainability. Our list is curated using items from The Boss Magazine and Proud Green Home.
Kaupuni Village in Oahu, Hawaii is the state’s first community of zero-energy homes. The 19 single-family homes and a community center are built with sustainable materials, natural ventilation, and Energy Star-compliant appliances. In addition to the zero energy homes themselves, the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) has helped incorporate a culture of sustainability. Community residents are trained in the use of sustainable agricultural methods such as aquaponics and dry fishing.
Developer Mitchell Spence was inspired to create the net-zero energy homes in Salt Lake City, Utah after traveling through Southeast Asia and seeing first-hand the devastating environmental impacts brought on by pollution. The Living Zenith is Utah’s first net-zero community and is part of an effort by Spence and collaborators, ranging from the Governor’s Office of Energy Development to Portland Energy Conservation, Inc., to reduce the home building industry’s contributions to Salt Lake City’s air pollution.
Wheeler Power Systems supplied the solar infrastructure that powers Living Zenith. Central to the sustainability of each net-zero house is these panels’ ability to export excess energy to a local system. As is customary for this design style, each net-zero house in Living Zenith contains high-quality, ethically-sourced materials.
Red Fox Crossing
Red Fox Crossing is a 34-home community in Wisconsin. Each home is powered by either a 6 or 8-kilowatt solar array capable of completely eliminating any need for unsustainable energy sources. As with most other net-zero communities in the U.S., the sustainability factor doesn’t end with solar panels. The Red Fox Crossing community is WaterSense and Indoor airPLUS certified and has also received other nationally-recognized energy-efficiency certifications.
These initiatives were central to proving that net-zero communities aren’t just environmentally possible but economically viable as well.
De Young EnVision
Despite being one of America’s most progressive states, the weather in California’s Central Valley region has made net-zero home development tricky. The intense heat traditionally requires lots of insulation throughout homes.
De Young EnVision properties get around this through the highly strategic use of insulation. Each home comes standard with formaldehyde-free insulation. Additional options include fiberglass insulation throughout each home’s walls and roof.
Prior to constructing their net-zero community, De Young Properties built several thousand homes in the area. The 36 homes in the De Young EnVision community have a luxurious appeal that flies in the face of any argument that sustainable home designs are generally ugly.
6226 Acacia Avenue by BONE Structure
Now that we’ve looked at several master-planned net-zero communities, let’s take a brief look at a few single homes that achieve net-zero emissions. One such stunning property is 6226 Acacia Avenue by BONE Structure. The property has a long list of sustainable features, including a thermal envelope made from a soy-based polyurethane. This offers great insulation, as is necessary for homes in the Oakland Hills, California area.
The luxury home is entirely framed in steel, which helps it resist everything from fire damage to pests and harsh weather. Because steel is not the best insulator, the soy-based thermal envelope is a central part of this home’s functionality.
It’s pricier than most of the other net-zero homes we’ve mentioned on this list; while those occupy the low to the mid-six-figure range, 6226 Acacia Avenue was listed for nearly $3 million.
The Zero Home
Last but not least, we have The Zero Home in Utah. The property is the result of a collaboration between Vivint and Garbett Homes. The duo bills it as Utah’s first net-zero home. Vivint is a staple of the Utah technology industry; they supplied the solar technology found in The Zero Home.
Garbett Homes, meanwhile, has been a global household name in affordable housing construction for more than 30 years. Together, they claim to have produced a net-zero property that can be constructed at scale and costs just $350,000. A primary feature of The Zero Home is a Vivint Solar array that reduces the property from a HERS rating of 28 to one of 5. That’s the difference between a sustainable home and an unsustainable one.