Homebuyers flock to energy-efficient cottages at Serenbes Nest
Homeowners seeking energy-efficient living are flocking to the Nest community in Serenbe. It’s a 15-cottage neighborhood within the 900-acre Serenbe development in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., southwest of Atlanta.
The first home built in the Nest is serving as a laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America program and was certified at the highest level by EarthCraft, a green-building program for homebuilders in the Southeast.
The model cottage was designed by Lew Oliver and built by Martin-Dodson Homes. It includes an array of energy- and water-saving technologies and products that will provide data to the Building America program. Lessons learned will be applied to other homes in the neighborhood and nationwide.
On the roof of the model home are 14, 215-watt solar panels that will provide around 6,100 kilowatt-hours annually of renewable energy. Energy Star- and Water Sense-rated appliances reduce the environmental impact as well as utility costs.
In addition, the home is highly insulated and sealed for maximum efficiency. Electric bills are expected to be about $200 per year, said Garnie Nygren, director of operations for Serenbe.
Wastewater and storm water is captured for irrigating the natural landscaping around the home. The natural landscaping includes trees and bushes with edible fruits. Heating and cooling for the homes in the neighborhood will come from a community geothermal system that uses the nearby six-acre lake.
Inside, flooring, cabinets, paint and other items were selected with the environment in mind. For instance, the floors are made from sustainably grown wood, and the cabinets use adhesives and finishes that are free of volatile organic compounds.
The attention to detail and high-quality finishes inside the 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom, 2-1/2 bath model reflect the trend toward small homes that don’t skimp on quality.
“We’re getting people to downsize and move away from the McMansion, but we have the same amenities and quality of appliances and fixtures that you would in a large estate home,” said Don Dodson, one of the owners of Martin Dodson Homes.
Building a highly efficient green home like the Nest model does cost a little more upfront, Dodson said, but there’s a payoff in the long term for the homeowner.
“Over time a low power bill will repay a lot of those costs,” he said. “A lot of people don’t think that way, they worry about the cost up front and then worry about the operating costs down the line.”
The Nest neighborhood offers six floor plans, ranging from 900 square feet to 1,700 square feet. Prices range from $265,000 to $400,000.
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Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.www