Net Zero Homes on a Budget

Healthier, Smarter Living Comes to Life in the design of the ABC Green Home 3.0
By Nick Slevin

Summer brings a big push on the construction side of the ABC Green Home project. The original ABC 1.0, which was jointly developed with SoCal Edison in Irvine, Calif. in 2012, is currently morphing into ABC 1A and 1B on a site in Santa Ana, Calif. The original demonstration home was promised to Habitat For Humanity. We carefully deconstructed and salvaged most of it, to be recycled into 1A, by BCA Development, our original homebuilder at the Great Park in Irvine. Habitat Orange County is constructing ABC 1B at the same time.

061320161200Over in Walnut, Calif., Habitat Pomona Valley is putting the finishing touches on ABC 2.0. This project was delayed by massive pre-construction site development, as shaping earthworks and the removal of 200 trucks of dirt from the site to level it out kept the project from starting on time. The solar array package is currently being installed on site by PetersenDean, whose Solar4America program is responsible for the roof and solar on the project. Our partners on ABC 2.0 will be able to participate in the model home demonstration phase of the project, upon completion by the Habitat Pomona Valley affiliate.

062520161200In Fullerton, Calif., Habitat Orange County is also busy building the first of three ABC Green Homes for the ABC 3.0, on a lot provided by the city. The main unit, a 2,500 square foot, Net-Zero, Multi-Generational home, designed by the team at Danielian Associates Architects and engineered by Gouvis Engineering, is under construction with the two smaller units following in six months.

071120161200All these units are Net-Zero, LEED, Water Sense, Build It Green, ENERGY STAR® and Builder Challenge Certified. They are also designed to be built at $75 per square foot, with an eye to affordability. They are buildable by any home building company and are designed to be simple and elegant, employing the principles of Universal Design: using wider doorways with access for wheelchairs, lowered workstations and sinks in master baths, zero-threshold showers in the multi-gen bathroom suites, mid-wall plugs and switches, discreet night lights for kids and adults alike, and plenty of storage spaces in pantries and laundry rooms for modern families who purchase in bulk.

They live bigger than the square footage suggests, with higher volume ceilings. These homes are all automated, employing smart home technology to improve the homeowner experience. Programmable appliances, lighting, thermostats, sprinklers, door locks, security, and entertainment systems, are all operable remotely by a smart phone, allowing the home owners to access and operate the home’s various systems at their convenience, 24/7.

051220161200There are passive house elements in the architecture, natural light via Milgard’s windows, and comfortable temperatures thanks to the intelligently designed exterior walls. The home features Owen’s Corning’s insulation materials, CertainTeed’s Gypsum products, Allura’s siding and 24 inches on center 2×6 stud bays, provided by Reliable Lumber. We have ‘Dual Fuel’ Net-Zero homes that use SoCalGas natural gas as well as electricity from SoCal Edison. The appliance package from Whirlpool is gas and electric.

053120161200The object of this exercise is to demonstrate that it is in fact possible to design and build Affordable, Buildable, Certified green homes, that are right sized and attainable by the average American homebuyer. We have assembled a design team of industry heavyweights who have donated their time Pro Bono to the project. We invited our advertisers to participate by donating their materials to the projects in exchange for a little extra publicity and the ability to participate in a demonstration home project that gives something back to the community. Our homebuilder partner Habitat For Humanity is seeking out U.S. Veteran families to sell these very affordably priced wonderful homes to, after the homes have shared their technology and their construction secrets with the building industry and the home buying public.

070120161200Moving forward, we are getting ready to start on the next home in the project, The ABC Green Home Remodel. Our team will transform a careworn A frame 3-bed, 1-bath 1946 built mountain home in Crestline, Calif. into a very green and efficient family home, continuing our tradition of surpassing and exceeding the strict California building codes in the process. We are very excited to get our green remodel underway. If you would like to participate, send me a note. You can watch our homes being built in real time via the e-Cam’s on each job site in the project and discover more about The ABC Green Home Project at:
www.abcgreenhome.com.

Nick Slevin is Publisher/Editor-in-Chief for Green Home Builder magazine. He may be reached at nslevin@penpubinc.com.