There was a time when green homes were largely aspirational, the province of the lucky few who could afford them. Slowly but surely, though, that’s changing.
The California-based architecture and planning firm known as the KTGY Group has a bit of niche going these days with green, affordable housing. Over the past year or so alone, we’ve seen this firm behind the LEED-certified homes designed to attract first-time home buyers at Citrus Walk in Covina, California, an eco-friendly senior housing complex in Portland, Oregon, and a green affordable housing development in Denver. Oh, and there’s that affordable green development underway in South Los Angeles, in conjunction with the L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency, and TerraSol development in Salt Lake City, complete with solar thermal and geothermal heating and cooling, targeting “first time buyers and empty nesters.”
KTGY’s latest community design to come to life exemplifies these trends. The homes in the Solaris Collection at Daybreak in South Jordan, Utah, start in the low $200,000’s — a price point intended to prove attractive to first-time homebuyer. They include a solar power system, geothermal heating and cooling, and a super-tight energy-efficient building envelope with HERS ratings under 40 in a Climate Zone 5, saving homeowners around 70 percent in utility bills over a home of similar size simply built to code.
We’ve seen standard housing developments that just slap on some solar power and call it good. But this development, like Solaris’s sister development in Utah, TerraSol (also designed by KTGY and built by Garbett Homes), seems to take green building for Everyman seriously, right down to the issue of proximity. Unlike homes in many new developments, Garbett Homes President Bryson Garbett notes that all the homes here are within walking distance from essential amenities and recreational activities.
In keeping with their appeal to young, first-time homebuyers, the homes here are available in “eclectic, modern exteriors” with fiber-cement siding in a wide color palette. Over 80 homes in this section of the residential development have already been sold, and 14 new lots have just hit the market. The development recently took the Gold Nugget Grand Award for the Residential Project of the Year in the detached product category from Builder Magazine.
Garbett Homes Marketing Director Rene Oehlerking clearly appreciates the cachet that KGTY’s affordable green production homes have offered Garbett: “We have struck gold with fresh, modern, high-density single-family home designs from KTGY – wrapped in a super-green solar and geothermal standard feature package and high tech interiors at an attainable price for first-time buyers, empty nesters and just about everyone in-between. We can’t build these homes fast enough,” she said . “Our buyers are really looking for something different in a sea of uninspiring brown French Country stucco boxes built without any consideration of energy efficiency or renewable energy generation.”
KTGY’s Mike Flynn has a commonsense take on the subject: “As architects and planners, we are aware that our actions have significant long-term effects, not only on the environment but also on our client’s bottom line. The way we look at it, if it doesn’t cost more, it adds value, and it is the right thing to do, why wouldn’t you go green?”