Emissions, Renewables

Construction completed at near zero energy community

2 March 2005 – Construction has been completed in Watsonville, California at one of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) first near Zero Energy Homes communities.

Part of the DOE’s Building America programme, the project has seen 132 affordable apartment homes created, many of which were designed for larger families.

The community, named Vista Montaña, houses the nation’s largest building integrated solar electric system ever installed in an apartment community. The complex’s 60 kW system, provided by GE, is capable of producing over 90 MWh of electricity annually.

The development was built by Clarum Homes, which designed the apartments to use 40 per cent less energy than a typical US household. Each home’s energy load has been minimized through ConSol’s ComfortWise programme so that most of the electrical needs could be met by the solar system. The ComfortWise programme also included the use of hydronic heating units to achieve efficiency through the combined function of heating both the water and the living space.

John Suppes, vice president of Clarum Homes, said: “Not only do renewable building practices and energy efficient systems make sense for the environment, but they also provide a more comfortable and healthier environment to live in.”