Leaders launch Colorado new solar home initiative
Builders and solar energy leaders launched a Colorado New Solar Home initiative that would make it easier for builders to include solar options for all home buyers in new subdivisions.
Officials from leading home builders and the solar industry said that installing solar energy systems on new Colorado homes is creating jobs and helping homeowners save thousands on utility bills, industry and governmental leaders said at a roundtable discussion last week. But home builders need a more predictable and consistent program to plan for more widespread installation of solar systems in new subdivisions.
"With new home construction finally back, including solar energy is a way to ensure long term energy savings for home buyers and good jobs across Colorado,'' said John Bringenberg, vice president of the board of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association.
Homeowners can save more than $40,000 over 30 years by reducing energy bills 50 percent with a standard rooftop solar system on an efficient new home, COSEIA estimates.
"We are including solar on new homes because it makes good economic sense for the buyers and shows our commitment to reducing energy use,'' said Perry Cadman, Brookfield Residential executive.
They spoke at a model Brookfield Residential home in the Midtown neighborhood in unincorporated Adams County. The homes are equipped with Dow Solar Powerhouse shingles, and Dow and Brookfield announced the expansion of their partnership to four communities in all four quadrants of metro Denver Wednesday.
See a slideshow of a Brookfield solar home.
"Our solar shingles are integrated with the roofing of a home so the best time to install them is when the home is being built,'' said Taylor Henderson, Dow Solar executive. ``Each home owner can offset the carbon dioxide equivalent of 32 trees or 28 barrels of oil a year with these solar systems. And homeowners are getting checks back from the utility because they are saving so much electricity.''
State Rep. Dominick Moreno, who represents the area, said solar leadership is good for Colorado. "In Adams County and across the state, we need to make it easier for rooftop solar to thrive,'' he said.
COSEIA announced it is working to build support for a Colorado New Solar Home Initiative which would:
- Provide a system in which solar reservations can be secured for a multiyear housing development with consistent and predictable cost parameters.
- Acknowledge and encourage lower energy footprints in new homes as measured by low HERS scores (Home Energy Rating System) by providing benefits tied to those low scores signifying greater efficiency.
- Reward new home buyers for a portion of the lifetime energy and environmental savings per home as a result of lower energy usage.
- Encourage use of the Appraisal Institute's solar valuation tool in every appraisal.
Additionally, expansion of COSEIA's Solar Friendly Communities program which provides recognition for local governments that streamline solar permitting by cutting red tape provides a good tool for encouraging more solar development.
Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison said his city pursued the recognition because solar is good for economic development and environmental sustainability.
"We achieved the first platinum-level certification in the state and believe this recognition will provide many benefits for Westminster's citizens,'' Atchison said.
Cadman said Brookfield seeks to deliver a product to consumers with lower (better) HERS scores which he described as "an MPG sticker for housing. We've found solar makes the most economic sense as the best way to get a big drop in HERS scores.''
Already, more and more all-solar subdivisions are cropping up across Colorado. SolarCity, the state's biggest installer, entered Colorado's new home builder market two years ago.
Dennis Helblig, Solar City builder sales manager, explained, "We expect to have installed more than one Megawatt of solar on new Colorado homes by the end of the year. If we could get a consistent program, it would have a huge impact on the industry.''
COSEIA is working with lawmakers, policy experts, solar installers and others to develop the new homes program.
Read more about solar power for your home.