This article was originally featured on our sister site BUILDER.
A new LEED-Platinum active adult community in Bradenton, Fla., is wowing buyers with low energy bills, even during the area's sweltering summer months.
Linda Lawrence was the first to buy a villa in the 42-acre Mirabella development, and she was stunned when she opened her first month's electric bill for $40. "I keep my thermostat at 77 degrees," she said, "And it actually feels chilly."
At buildout, Mirabella's 160 green homes will use nearly 40 percent less energy than what is used in a typical home, says developer Marshall Gobuty. They feature Energy Star appliances and WaterSense faucets, toilets, showers and irrigation controllers, which help reduce water consumption significantly — with no reduction in overall performance. Spray foam insulation provides a barrier up to 50 percent tighter and more effective against moisture and allergens than traditional insulation. High-end vinyl windows help keep cool air indoors, which helps drive energy costs down.
Homes are inspected for quality control during each phase of the building process, says Gobuty. Sarasota,Fla.-based Synergy Building Corp., the lead builder of Mirabella, insures that almost all construction waste is recycled, says owner Joe Jannopoulo.
Mirabella's villa homes start at $270,880 and average around 1,500 square feet of living space. Bradenton Realtor Peggy Christ says that home buyers--particularly retirees on a fixed income--are looking for long-term savings on energy costs. This is particularly true in Florida, where air conditioning systems run year-round.
"LEED Platinum certified homes are exceedingly rare, particularly in this price range," says Christ. "These homes should be worth 10 to 15 percent more than they are because of the way they help you save on energy costs. They'll also have high resale value."
Mirabella promotes an active adult lifestyle featuring first-class amenities that include gated entry with 24-hour security cameras, large clubhouse, heated swimming pool and spa, fenced-in dog park, pickleball courts, a modern fitness center, and an outdoor kitchen and barbecue area.
Clarence Jones owned a home on nearby Anna Maria Island before relocating to similar-sized house in Mirabella, where he has saved nearly $200 a month on his electric bill. Jones credits that to the insulation that was installed when his home was built earlier this year.
"During the summer my electric bill would have been over $250, but the highest it's been here in Mirabella is $60," Jones says.