From Gated Community to Energy Efficiency?

Land-Tejas Companies, a real pioneer in gated communities, is setting off in a new direction with Discovery at Spring Trails.  As they promote themselves,

Innovation is the cornerstone of Land Tejas Companies, developer of Canyon Gate Communities. It is the refinement of vision and practicality.

And now, from the developer who introduced guard-gated communities and built-in technology, comes the world’s first solar-powered hybrid community.

Discovery at Spring Trails is designed in collaboration with GE’s Ecomagination® initiative. This program features renewable energy savings with solar power, whole-home energy efficiencies, advanced building science, water conservation and indoor air quality.

To what extent is this a sign of the times, an indication of a real shift, when pioneers in gated communities are turning to being pioneers in energy efficient building?  When those interested primarily in making green realize that they can best do so by going Green?

The GE ecomagination Homebuilder Program seeks to lower household energy and water consumption, and reduce emissions.   What would this mean for a 2500 square foot Texas home?

  • Reduced emissions of about 5 tons annually — the equivalent to about 10,000 miles in an “average US car”.
  • Reduced utility costs of between $600 and $1500 per year (compared to “an industry-standard average new home”)

While it is quite possible that the home might cost more, that second bullet ensures that it will be less costly to operate/run (on average) and likely less cost to own.

GE’s target:  At least a 20$% savings in energy consumption.  Well, this is a nice start but far below what is reasonably possible (see Architecture2030) but a good start.  And, well, “to protect comfort and improve air quality”. 

To be in the program, according to the Houston Business Journal,

the builder agrees to use the high-performance products offered by GE and to adopt building techniques specified by the Environments for Living Program. Developed by Daytona Beach-Fla.-based Masco Contractor Services, the Environment for Living Program prescribes a set of structural-design standards for heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, ductwork and the outer shell of a home to make it more healthy, durable, comfortable and energy efficient.

GE provides  “marketing support in the form of marketing collateral for design centers and model homes” and “inspired by ecomagination” as a phrase for advertising.

The homes will feature something that can matter:  the GE dashboard which will provide real-time feedback and hisotrical information on electricity and water comsumption … and on emissions. (As noted elsewhere, Feedback Systems could be key to a better energy future.)

As more and more builders turn to above code standards like GE’s Ecomagination Homebuilder Program provides, might we find rising customer understanding and expectations? Will this, in turn, help foster an environment for ever stronger code to improve overall building stock energy efficiency?

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