Students pair with builder to create affordable net zero home

Students pair with builder to create affordable net zero home

A Denver builder and University of Denver students have built a net zero home that targets first-time home buyers. 

Oakwood Homes and the students built a single-family, net zero home that sold for $189,000.

Colorado's largest privately held home builder partnered with students from DU's School of Real Estate and Construction Management and used a combination of solar panels and energy-efficient building techniques so that the home will produce as much energy as it uses in a given year, creating a net zero home.

For sixteen years Oakwood Homes and the University of Denver have teamed up on a home-building projects, where students help manage every aspect of the construction project as their capstone class. This is the second net zero home built in partnership between Oakwood Homes and the University of Denver. The team's first such home sold for $315,000 in 2011, so this was priced significantly lower with first-time home buyers in mind.

This year's home reduces energy costs with features including a hybrid tankless water heater, complex fluorescent light bulbs, double-pane windows with added e-film, extra insulation under the concrete pad, an additional exterior shell of rigid insulation, and a whole house fan to increase comfort while lowering air conditioning usage. The team also included environmentally conscious building materials such as recycled carpet, 12-inch-thick walls, and green guard laminate wood floors, proving the home is built green from the ground up.

"For the past 15 years we have been working with students at the University of Denver on home-building projects and the net zero energy homes are an innovative way to work together and represent Oakwood's ongoing efforts to build the most energy-efficient homes," said Frank Walker, vice president of Oakwood Homes. "These projects allow us to take the latest in building-science technology and apply it to our other homes."

The students have been involved in the entire construction process including writing the schedule, calling subcontractors, and monitoring the subcontractors on site. Each student is involved in a small group, in which they deal with donation acquisition, public relations, events, subcontractor relationships, and finances.

"Being able to work alongside industry professionals is one of the greatest experiences a student can have," said Nicole Haselden, DU student and the practicum class president. "Through this project, we are able to make decisions such as those made by superintendent managers in the field while still having the support of Oakwood employees to guide us as necessary."

Read more about building a green home.

Topics: Building Green, GREAT GREEN HOMES, Home Design & Plans, Solar Power

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