Energy-efficient home in Dallas area helps with bills
DALLAS (AP) — The average Texan drops more than $127 on electricity costs each month, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The Dallas Morning News reports that number’s on the shy side for the summer — Dallas is in the midst of a record-setting, blistering July. And for the area residents lucky enough to live in a home as big as Lynn Rush’s 4,688-square-foot house in Addison, those bills will require a prettier penny.
But that doesn’t bother Rush, and it shouldn’t bother whomever buys her home, which hit the market in late June. That’s because her modernist, open-concept pad is LEED Platinum certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, a certification only awarded to the country’s most energy efficient buildings and homes.
The house, which Rush started building in 2015, is outfitted with solar panels and geothermal energy, which the builders tapped into by drilling beneath the home until they hit water. When the weather is cooperative, Rush can generate more energy than she consumes.
“Especially in a place like Dallas, with all the pollution, I wanted to do my part to be as fuel and energy efficient as possible,” she said.
The house sits across from White Rock Creek Park, a proximity the home reflects through native landscaping and floor-to-ceiling windows that can recede into the walls, allowing access to the outdoors.
The four-bedroom, four-bath house sits on 0.7 acres. Natural landscaping surrounds the home, and a greenhouse and garden sit in the backyard. Every light is an energy-efficient LED bulb.
The home is just one of 29 LEED Platinum-certified single-family homes in Dallas-Fort Worth, and one of less than 4,000 worldwide, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
Most LEED buildings are commercial, which benefit from the economies of scale in what can often be an expensive process. Rush said her home cost around $1.5 million to build, and it’s hitting the market at $2.2 million. However, she said she gets tax deductions because of the solar panels, which helps to mitigate the construction costs.
“The process is similar (between commercial and residential) at a really high level in that, basically, you need to build all these green features in, and eventually it is verified by us to meet our requirements,” said Asa Foss, the Green Building Council’s director for residential technical solutions. “Where it differs is instead of submitting their info to us at the end of a project, we have independent green raters go out on-site and perform a number of inspections and tests.”
This involves checking insulation, air leakage, green appliances and air quality, among other metrics.
Certifications are based on a scale of 110 points that are awarded for different “green” elements. Platinum ratings, the highest and most rigorous, require 80 points, he said. Residents can accrue points not only through the eco-friendliness of their home, but also through circumstantial characteristics, like being in walkable neighborhoods.
Some of these subjective judgments have been a source of scrutiny for the LEED certification, raising questions about the efficacy of the elements the rating system prioritizes. But Foss said the council consults with technical experts to ensure the standards are updated and effective.
“It’s a really heavy lift to get to that level,” Foss said. “You’re getting almost all the points in the rating system. You’re not just exceptionally efficient, you’re getting at the holistic definition of green.”
An architect friend of Rush’s designed the house, helping to realize her green aspirations.
“The idea is that the lot is an extension of the nature preserve, that’s why the first third isn’t meant to be occupied,” said architect Paul Merrill of 5G Studio Collaborative.
He helped to find the team of consultants, engineers, contractors and inspectors necessary to build the house up to snuff and make sure it passed USGBC’s muster.
“Most homes wouldn’t have this involvement with professionals,” he said.
Now, Rush hopes to adapt some of these concepts to a new home with a different aesthetic.
“I’m always trying to be creative,” she said.
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com