I saw the coolest house last week. Ok, maybe from the outside it wasn't that cool, actually it looks just like all the other houses in the Cobblestone plan in Ohio Township, but that is actually what made the house so cool. It is S&A Homes new lab house and it was built in conjunction with IBACOS in an effort to figure out how a regular production home can be super energy efficient. While this home is not quite a zero-energy home yet, the goal it to spend the next 2-3 years learning how this home performs, what energy-efficient technology performs the best AND can be built into production style homes for a reasonable cost. Imagine that in just a few years all new homes could come with technology that could result in the homeowners getting a check back from their utility company!
Here are a few of the interesting things I saw in the home...
2x8 walls: The extra depth was used to increase the space available for insulation and the innovative staggered wall studs (2x4 screwed to a top plate) reduced heat transfer through the walls. The blown fiberglass insulation combined with a few inches of foam board on the outside resulted in a wall with R-40 insulation rating. As an added bonus, the thicker walls resulted in a extra deep window well inside the house that I thought was a really nice feature and goes to prove that many of these improvements can be beautiful too.
Solar Panels: Probably one of the only things that really gives this home away is the panels on the garage roof. While they look unusual compared to the rest of the development they are a major contributor to the almost 80% reduction in utility bills the owner of this home will see. Another significant contributor is the geo-thermal heat pump that uses the earth’s heat to warm the house and pre-warm the hot water. Green Materials. While the home was built to be energy-efficient and not necessary eco-friendly, the builders did use some materials that fall into the “green” category including low VOC-paints, beautiful recycled glass countertops and recycled carpet. That complements the great open floor plan, ENERGY STAR stainless appliances and dark hardwood floors.
System Tests: Several sets of redundant systems were in place to facilitate the testing that the home will be put through over the next 2-3 years. This includes three sets of HVAC ductwork to determine which performs best and two variations on the ground loop for the geothermal heat pump. The fact that S&A and IBACOS are making the effort to test and learn about how different systems perform is a great testament to their commitment to green building.
S&A Homes is interested in selling the home with a leaseback for the duration of the testing period. If you were to build a home with this kind of energy-efficient it would probably cost you over $500,000 to build, but S&A is offering it for sale for just $399,000, which is comparable to similar homes in the neighborhood. Of course, in the future the goal is that this home could be built for almost the same price as any other home. Give me a call if you are interested in hearing more about this home, or purchasing it.
Looking to buy or sell a green home in Allegheny or Westmoreland County? Call Christa Ross from RE/MAX Select Realty, at 724-933-6300 x214 (office) or 724-309-1758 (mobile) or visit my website at www.greenhomespgh.com.
Buying or Selling a home in Pittsburgh? Call Christa Ross from RE/MAX Select Realty, at 724-933-6300 x214 (office) or 724-309-1758 (direct) or visit my website at www.bestpittsburghhomes.com.