Wall Street Journal staffer Kris Hudson speaks with industry pros--including Meritage Home's C.R. Herro, Blue Heron partner Tyler Jones, KB Home's Dan Bridleman, and Lennar's David Kaiserman--only to find varying degrees of buy-in towards the net-zero concept.

At this year's Design & Construction week, which wrapped in Las Vegas last week, the 2015 New American home was the first of its line to achieve net-zero electrical usage, thanks to a superior insulation package, passive solar design, LED light fixtures, Energy Star appliances, and an 15 kW photovoltaic array. Click here to take a virtual tour of the 2015 New American Home.

Net-zero electricity homes, which generate more electricity in a year than they use, are often viewed as a niche product for the affluent who can afford custom homes. Projects like the 2015 New American Home, aimed to make a splash on a production budget, are out to change that perception.

Meritage Homes Corp., which builds in nine states, has constructed 50 net-zero homes since 2011 and intends to build 50 this year alone.

C.R. Herro, vice president of environmental affairs at Meritage, says the company can achieve net-zero status in homes costing as little as $200,000 in certain markets. Thus, the key to more mainstream acceptance, he believes, is not price but informing more home buyers of the benefits of net-zero homes. “Net-zero is technologically and financially solved,” he said. “It’s now a matter of the consumer catching up to that potential. That’s probably another three years.”

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