Why are these green homes 96% better than other houses?

Driving into the cul-de-sac of Ashwood Circle, the eight dwellings look like upgrades from mid-century modern homes similar to the ones that line the surrounding streets in North Central Phoenix.

Looks can be deceiving. The homes were actually built in 2017 and 2018 by Blue Sky Homes and boast enviable energy efficiency scores and present a blend of crisp style and high tech. With energy-efficient building techniques and products, the homes are expected to use 96 percent less energy than comparable new build homes of a similar size and outpace existing homes by even more.

Each home was tested by an independent third party energy rater to develop a HERS Index score. The Home Energy Rating System or HERS Index is the industry standard for inspecting and calculating a home's energy performance. The U.S. Department of Energy has determined that a typical resale home scores 130 on the HERS Index while a standard new home is awarded a rating of 100.

  • A home with a HERS Index Score of 70 is 30 percent MORE energy efficient than a standard new home.
  • A home with a HERS Index Score of 130 is 30 percent LESS energy efficient than a standard new home.

Basically, the closer the score gets to zero the more efficient the home. RESNet, the administrator of the Index, reports that more than 2 million homes have been HERS rated.

See more in the Photo Gallery below.

The homes on Ashwood Circle have been rated with a HERS Index ranging from 4 to 52. Four of the homes on the south side of the street already have solar panels installed, which is one of the factors that lower the HERS Index. For homes on the north side, solar panels are optional. That's because the panels are on the south face of the roof hidden from the street view, and the panels were installed under more favorable utility policies that changed last summer.

The homes were built on vacant acreage formerly owned by a nearby church, but only long-time neighbors would know it's a new development. The enclave offers suburban-style living with backyards big enough to accommodate pools within a 10-minute drive from downtown.

The homes offer full smart controls including an automated entry with a touch keypad, automated blinds, Nest thermostats and integrated speakers to play music anywhere in the home.

The remaining model home has a HERS Index of 52 without solar power. For the 3,290 square-foot, four-bedroom home with a full basement, the estimated monthly electric bill will be $167 per month, which is 48 percent more efficient than a code-built home of the same size.

For one of the homes with solar panels and a HERS Index of 4, the electric bill is expected to be $34 per month and is 96 percent more energy efficient.

Blue Sky Homes founder Nick Blue committed to building this smart and green community after taking a course on green building, reading several books on the subject and consulting with many industry experts. 

“I strongly believe that the combination of efficiency and technology is what buyers in today and tomorrow’s market are looking for in their residences," he said. "We want to be on the cutting edge of this movement and build homes that provide lasting appeal.” 

Listing agent and Green Realtor designee Jamie Harvey with Urban Blue Realty also expressed his support for the community.

"Blue Sky decided to make this development one of the best in the city and we have been excited to see the response thus far," he said. "With only three homes remaining after only a month since completion of the community, we could not be happier with the results."

But more than energy savings, building a community was a top priority. While each home has the block-wall fencing common to homes in Phoenix, each one also features a patio in the front yard where people can gather and interact with their neighbors. Each home comes with a pair of cruiser bicycles to help new owners get acquainted with their neighborhood.

"There are so many destinations in this area, from coffee shops to trendy restaurants to boutiques, that are all just a short bike ride away," said Raquel Harvey, Blue Sky’s marketing and design coordinator.  “We want our buyers to love where they live and get to know their neighbors.  The bikes and front yard patios encourage that type of community and we are excited to see it already becoming a reality as families have moved into Ashwood Circle.” 

Topics: Appliances, Bathroom, Building Green, Certification / LEED, Connected Homes / Smart Homes, Energy Audits, Energy Star, Healthy Homes, Home Design & Plans, Paint | Low VOC and No VOC, Sustainable Communities, Tankless Water Heaters, Water Saving Devices, WaterSense

Gary Wollenhaupt

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.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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