So you want to know what an affordable zero-energy home looks like? Just visit the historic Independence Heights, where the City of Houston joined HOUZE Advanced Building Science Inc. in unveiling the first two of what they're calling "the most advanced, affordable homes in the world."
The game-changing component is a natural gas co-generation power cell that provides more energy to each home than it uses, actually allowing the additional power to be put back into the grid. Plus, savings on energy payments (zilch for 10 years) and insurance discounts (near 40 percent) cut the cost of ownership.
The design of the Arts and Crafts-style models consider other elements of energy preservation and cost effectiveness from everything down to the grass variety, which requires less water than a typical turf. These features are meant to keep the homes manageable to own, operate and maintain.
"You can't start a movement . . . in a place where people don't care," Mayor Annise Parker said.
Still, a price tag of $200,000 for a two-bedroom home is daunting for some neighborhood residents. One, Charles Ray, told CultureMap that he's worried about how these model homes will affect the property values in the area.
"You can't start a movement . . . in a place where people don't care," Mayor Annise Parker said during a press conference, touting the input of community leaders in the public-private partnership.
David Goswick, chairman and CEO of HOUZE, explained that the two homes revealed — a welcoming brick-and-siding bungalow and sturdy green two-story house — are just the beginning. Two more models are on the way, and the company has 80 lots throughout the community slated for the zero-energy structures.