Living eco-friendly

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Al Key/DRC
This home on Manchester Road in Highland Village, known as the “Village Park Eco Home,” has a metal roof.
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Energy efficient homes increase in popularity

Nestled on a corner between larger, more traditional homes in Highland Village is one that doesn’t quite stand out as odd or different.

The corrugated metal roof is unlike the traditional roofs that surround it, but it is the inner workings of the home that set it apart, from foam insulation lining the walls to a special water heating system that saves water and electricity.

The home, known as the “Village Park Eco Home,” is open for tours beginning this weekend as builders hope to educate the community about how to make homes more energy efficient and hopefully, attract buyers.

It was constructed as part of the Department of Energy challenge, which requires the homes use at least 30 percent less energy than current energy codes and gives the home an added energy efficient designation.

“The main goal was energy efficiency, but then we tried to incorporate as many eco-friendly things as we could,” said Wayne Atkins, builder with Sterling Brook Custom Homes.

In addition to the energy efficiencies built into the home, they also used recycled and eco-friendly materials such as wood from dead oak trees for the dark, hardwood flooring and recycled wood for beams in the ceiling.

The home is an example of what could become standard practice in the near future, as energy codes for residential buildings become more strict, said Phile Crone, executive officer of the Dallas Builders Association. Construction of homes that gain additional energy efficient certification from Energy Star are popular in the state, with 21,000 built in 2012, with at least 5,000 of those in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, he said.

Texas has seen a large uptick in these homes since energy codes in 2009 required new upgrades, but many local builders were already at the required level of efficiency, he said.

“A lot in our market were already at that level, and it’s been one way that builders are distinguishing themselves from the home marketplace that is already out there,” Crone said. “I think in this market at least, it’s not the regulation, but the expectation of the consumer that’s driving this.”

The city of Denton has also added incentives for green building in the area with the GreenSense Energy Efficiency Rebate Program. Consumers can receive rebates if they follow the guidelines while improving their home with such features as new HVAC systems, smart thermostats and solar water heaters.

Dan Fette, owner of Dan Fette Builders and one of the first green builders in the area, said by constructing these types of projects, consumers can significantly reduce their costs to run a home and ensure their home is ahead of the energy efficiency requirements.

“I’ve been doing this kind of thing for years, so I’ve developed a proficiency because I’m doing them over and over again, and the things I started doing five, six and eight years ago are increasingly becoming code requirements,” he said. “It’s becoming easier because it’s being mandated now — we have to do it. I’m trying to stay a step ahead of that requirement by doing more ambitious things in terms of energy efficiency, and it’s paying off for my customers.”

His latest project was a 2,500-square-foot home. The owner’s electricity bill for the month was $89, he said.

While customers may pay more upfront for the energy efficient homes — the Village Park Eco Home is listed at $689,000 — the cost benefits cancel out the initial price in the long run, builders say.

“There’s an upcharge and it does cost more to build it, but as soon as you move in you start saving money from day one,” said Chris Miles, a senior advisor with Sterling Brook Homes.

Tours of the home begin this weekend through May 11, and are held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.


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