The Preserve at Mountain Vista Combines Highly Energy-Efficient
New York ENERGY STAR® Homes Building Methods with Solar and Geothermal Technologies
October 04, 2013
Greenhill Contracting of New Paltz held a ribbon-cutting today at The Preserve at Mountain Vista, its new development of competitively priced net-zero energy homes in New Paltz. The developer used cost-efficient, standardized construction methods honed in part through participation in the New York ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
Today’s event was an opportunity for building professionals, homeowners and the general public to learn about net zero energy homes. To qualify as net-zero energy, a home must produce as much electricity as it draws from the electric grid, resulting in monthly utility bills that average zero over a year’s time. This is typically accomplished with renewable energy systems on site.
The Preserve at Mountain Vista includes nine three-bedroom homes on a cul-de-sac in the former Schreiber Estate along Evergreen Lane. This is Greenhill Contracting’s second net-zero energy development. The first, Green Acres, in the village of New Paltz, began development in 2008 and is the first single-family home development in New York where every home was designed to achieve net-zero energy usage. Green Acres comprises seven completed homes along Cooper Street, with 18 additional homes planned.
Homes in both developments have 2,000 to 3,000 square feet of living space. Those in Green Acres are on village lots of one-third acre. Those in The Preserve at Mountain Vista are on lots of two to 10 acres. Green Acres features fully customized homes, while the homes within The Preserve will be less customized and will sell at a lower price range.
“We salute Greenhill Contracting on its outstanding achievement, which demonstrates the strength of the New York ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program and goes beyond it to show the viability of net-zero energy homes,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. “This project aligns with Governor Cuomo’s call for innovative projects to drive economic growth and reduce the environmental impact of energy generation. By constructing homes designed to achieve net-zero energy usage, Greenhill Contracting has set a high bar for energy-efficient home construction.”
NYSERDA administers the New York ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program as part of its Low-Rise Residential New Construction Programs.
“I am a committed partner in the New York ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program because it provides a method to have an independent certification that my homes have been built to perform to the highest of standards,” said Greenhill Contracting CEO Anthony Aebi. “The verification and testing provided by the Home Energy Rater follows nationally-recognized procedures and allows me to demonstrate to buyers and lenders the advanced energy efficiency performance my homes deliver.”
Homes in Green Acres and The Preserve at Mountain Vista are constructed with insulated concrete forms from the foundation to the roof. With this technique, foam-and-plastic forms produce reinforced concrete walls with a high (R22) insulation value. Greenhill homes’ attic insulation can be triple that value.
Geothermal heat pumps provide space heating and cooling and water heating to the homes, while roof-mounted photovoltaic panels provide electricity. Purchase prices are competitive with conventional homes, according to Aebi. However, operating costs are much lower, due both to net zero energy costs and to federal and state tax credits of up to $25,000. These savings enable homebuyers to purchase more house for the same money, according to Aebi.
Homes in Green Acres are producing as much or more energy than they need through a combination of renewable solar electricity systems and geothermal heat pumps. Green Acres homeowner David Shepler’s home, for example, produces more electricity than it consumes over the course of a year because of its solar electric system. Shepler receives checks from his local utility for the excess energy his home produces: $80 for the first year in his home and $172 for the second.
“Naturally, energy performance varies depending on homeowners’ lifestyles,” said Aebi. “For some homeowners, simply saving on energy costs, versus their former homes, is enough; rather than achieving net zero energy, as other homeowners manage to do. We build with the features and quality to achieve this in every home.”
Greenhill Contracting partnered with Hudson Solar, Verdae LLC and Integral Building Design Inc. in the development of The Preserve.
"We hope this project sets the stage for the future of home-building, while encouraging the buyers of these homes to focus on the investment, health, and longevity of the home,” said John Wright, vice president of Hudson Solar. “We have clearly demonstrated that the additional upfront cost for an energy efficient home will result in either an equivalent or lower monthly mortgage with the purchase of a home in The Preserve."
“We use geothermal heat pumps for net zero energy homes because they are one of the most efficient heating and cooling systems available, and they qualify for 30 percent federal tax credits for geothermal systems. These HVAC systems are designed to maximize comfort, indoor air quality, durability and energy efficiency,” said Lloyd Hamilton, owner of Verdae LLC.
“The design and construction of these homes has set a new standard for indoor air quality, energy efficiency and long-term durability, said Pasquale Strocchia, president, Integral Building & Design Inc. “These are the essential elements to building homes today that are resilient to withstand the challenges of tomorrow. Although builders often assume that these features can’t be constructed cost-effectively, Anthony Aebi has found a way to successfully bring these values to the market-place.”
New York ENERGY STAR Certified Homes combine quality construction materials with best practices, producing residences that are cost-effective and have reduced impact on the environment as compared to conventionally-built homes. They feature tight building envelopes for reduced air leakage, with increased insulation levels and high-performance windows and doors, as well as energy-efficient heating, cooling, lighting and appliances. They are more comfortable and use less energy than conventionally built homes. Homeowners can save on energy costs every year, reducing the cost of home ownership.
NYSERDA’s Low-rise Residential New Construction Programs incorporate the New York ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program, including market-rate and affordable housing, as well as an opportunity for certain gut rehabilitation projects to participate and receive the alternative New York Energy $mart designation.
NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975. For more information, visit nyserda.ny.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram.
About Greenhill Contracting
Anthony Aebi, the president of Greenhill Contracting has been working in construction most of his adult life and began custom new home construction and land development in 1996. He developed and designed the concept of a North East zero energy home beginning in 2006. With a strong desire to promote the building of zero energy, Anthony Aebi also works as a consultant to builders who want to develop zero energy homes as well as developing deep energy retrofit plans for existing structures.