Launch Slideshow

Net Zero on a Budget

Net Zero on a Budget

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    John Bare

    The Zero Home near Salt Lake City is one of the first production homes in the country that generates as much energy as it consumes, meaning little or no utility bills for owners.

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    Weston Colton

    The home is powered by a 10.29 kW PV array.

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    John Bare

    Customer surveys have shown that buyers are enticed by green features and super-low energy bills but that they fall in love with the company's less-is-more design.

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    John Bare

    The home shows off Garbett's contemporary design aesthetic, although company officials shy away from putting a label on the look.

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    John Bare

    The covered back porch provides wide-open views of the surrounding countryside.

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    John Bare

    Daylight fills the master bedroom, thanks to plentiful argon-filled low-E windows.

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    John Bare

    Quartz countertops offer a stylish look in the master bedroom.

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    John Bare

    The four-car garage is equipped with an electric vehicle charging station.

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    Weston Colton

    With Vivint's energy management system, residents can see in real time how much power the home is producing and consuming.

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    The home is well insulated with spray foam on critical areas such as rim joists, heel trusses, and cantilevers.

 

For optimized insulation capacity and materials savings, Garbett employs advanced techniques that include 24 inches o.c. framing. This reduces the use of wood and leaves more room for insulation, Oehlerking says. Garbett also utilizes open-corner framing that requires two studs instead of three for exterior corners. These techniques increase exterior wall insulation by 10 percent and eliminate about 100 studs in a 2,000-square-foot dwelling. 

“Those are 100 studs we don’t have to pay for,” says Oehlerking. “We don’t like to overframe because it’s nothing but a thermal bridge.” 

The builder provides its framing subcontractors with detailed plans and requires them to cut to zero waste. “We told them we’d only pay for the amount of product we used,” he says. “It eliminated construction waste and saved a ton of money.” 

LESSONS LEARNED
Garbett runs a tight ship on scheduling and was one of the first builders in the region to employ the non-market-driven evenflow system for construction management. “We say we’re going to build X amount of homes regardless of the market, and our subs know they can rely on that schedule,” Oehlerking says. “We leverage this predictable scheduling system to obtain better pricing and faster construction times.” 

Now that the project is complete, the lesson learned from its construction is that an affordable net-zero home requires trade-offs and compromises to offset the expense of sustainable systems and products, Oehlerking notes. It’s a formula that the company has refined over the years, and energy-conscious buyers are taking notice. The Zero Home, which was listed for $649,900, is under contract to a Salt Lake City couple who was enticed by its high-tech features and ultra-low energy bills, says sales manager Dan Mooy. 

“We have spent hours there just talking about the benefits of owning this high-performance home,” he says. “They have returned every few days to show family and friends, and just to hang out.”