Meritage Homes, the nation’s 10th largest builder operating in Western and Southern markets from Florida to California, unveiled what the company says is the first production net-zero home in the country.
The 3,391-square-foot home built in Meritage’s Verrado community in Buckeye, Ariz., is framed with staggered 2x6 stud walls, insulated with Demilec spray foam, and includes double-glazed low-E windows, 14-SEER air conditioning equipment, programmable thermostats and controls, Energy Star appliances, and LED and CFL lighting. These features comprise Meritage’s standard energy package used in all its homes. The 5.6-kW PV system installed on this model brings it to net-zero.
Beyond energy, the company integrated IAQ measures like MERV-8 air filters and low-VOC interior products, as well as water-efficient products, reducing water consumption to WaterSense levels inside and out. The home sold for $322,140.
“The key to building deep green homes is credibility,” says Meritage’s vice president of environmental affairs, C.R. Herro, “and that comes from third-party verification. The key to bringing them into the market in a production environment is scaleability, which makes them affordable.”
Meritage already builds homes with HERS ratings in the 20s in 21 communities, where it installs Echo Solar System’s unique combo solar heating, DHW, and PV systems as a standard feature. Buyers can reach net-zero by increasing the size of the solar system with a $10,000 upgrade, and cover the additional cost with their federal tax credit for renewable energy systems. “We’ll work with these buyers from the beginning, to match them with the right lot and elevation that can accomdate the larger systems,” Herro says.
Meritage has been building 100% of its homes beyond Energy Star-certified levels since 2009 and this year’s move to net-zero is something company CEO Steve Hilton describes as “the next phase in what we’re calling a residential revolution.” He goes on to say that the company’s commitment to net-zero performance levels “illustrates how new homes can and shoud be built in the future to maximum energy efficiency.”