We’ve covered net zero developments from Philadelphia to Davis, California. And we’ve covered affordable housing developments from New York City to Santa Monica. But this may be the first net zero affordable housing project to cross our desk, and it’s slated for — wait for it — west central Florida.
The Eco Village at Dunedin, a residential building project in Dunedin, Pinellas County (which comes to us via Mother Nature Network) is being lauded as the nation’s first affordable net-zero energy townhome community. The developer behind the project, Planet Green Group, broke ground on the 25 town homes at the beginning of August at MLK Ave & Lorraine Leland Street. Conceived of as green workforce housing for the area — with a special focus on professionals directly serving the community — the project is being carried out in conjunction with the Pinellas County Housing Finance Authority and City of Dunedin.
Another key partner on this project is General Electric. Planet Green Group formed a strategic partnership with the global energy/tech behemoth to make these one-of-a-kind townhomes part of the GE Ecomagination program. Toward that end, these homes will combine building science and high-performance products along with energy monitoring technology designed to help homeowners save money on utility bills. All of which is expected to lower overall household energy use, CO2 emissions on the power grid, and indoor water consumption.
As far as the green details go, these homes come equipped with a host eco-friendly features at every level. Inside, foam insulated walls provide superior R-values to stop energy dollars from escaping through the walls and floors, as do a foam-insulated roof deck, a reflective roof and triple-paned, low-emissions vinyl windows. High-performance HVAC systems, coupled with heat pumps, keep these homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter, aided by a graduated, computer-designed duct system that maximizes the efficiency of the HVAC tech in distributing air throughout the home. An HVAC zoning system allows homeowners to cool and heat the specific areas of their home currently in use, in real time.
Outside, the homes feature solar photovoltaic systems with optimal orientation, as well as custom-designed energy monitoring technology based on a simple user interface. This interface allows homeowners to keep track of how much electricity the home’s solar power system is generating on any given day, as well as the home’s consumption and savings. And there’s another bonus here, for the eco-minded: an integrated electric vehicle charging station, powered in part by the sun.
The town homes feature Energy Star rated appliances and LED lighting, which are elements you’d expect from just about net zero project. Less expected (but equally welcome) is the focus on building biology, or healthy home features: the town homes incorporate not only low-VOC paints and finishes and non-toxic flooring, but a whole-house water filtration system that assures pure drinking water from all faucets, and a UV light system integrated into the building’s ductwork and air handler that keeps mold, viruses and bacteria out of the home’s air.
These two-story town homes at the Eco Village at Dunedin will be LEED certified, and are projected to carry price tags in the $135,000 to $175,000 range. The Tampa Bay Times reports that 600 area residents responded to an initial marketing pitch for the development, and thus far, 59 of them have been placed on a priority list to purchase. Once the homes are complete, priority will be given to “Home Town Heroes” such as police officers, teachers, firefighters, nurses, veterans and other professionals directly serving the community. More information is available online.