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How Custom Home Builders Are Preparing for an Energy Revolution

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Jane Marsh's picture
Editor Environment.co

Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

  • Member since 2020
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  • Dec 19, 2022
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The renewable energy revolution is transforming the way home builders and owners think about the home of the future. Homeowners today are increasingly interested in renewable energy, especially solar power. Custom home builders are changing how they do things to fold sustainability and renewable energy into every aspect of their designs. What role does the energy revolution play in this transformation and how are new houses changing?

Solar Integration is the New Standard

As of 2022, the U.S. has over 130 gigawatts of solar power capacity installed, which can power tens of millions of homes. The cost of solar PV panels has dropped significantly over the past 10 years, while interest in sustainability and renewable energy has increased. As a result, solar integrations are no longer a luxury feature.

Custom home builders today are designing their projects for renewable energy from the ground up. Solar is not a question — it is a standard feature. Custom home designer Marc Cléjan intentionally chooses clearings for his net-zero spec houses or clears out plant growth to create a clearing and replant native plants around it. This allows Cléjan to maximize the solar panel exposure on the roofs of his custom houses, which sell for millions of dollars.

Cléjan’s net-zero design approach is likely to become more popular due to the renewable energy revolution. The built environment accounts for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 33% of global energy resources. Reducing the energy consumption of homes is not only good for the environment but a highly-appealing design feature for sustainability-minded buyers. Integrating solar power and other renewable energy sources into custom designs from the beginning can make the whole home a closed-loop, net-zero structure.

Designing Homes Around a Complete Renewable Lifestyle

The renewable energy revolution is one aspect of a larger movement toward all-around renewable lifestyles. People who invest in a house today and request solar integration from the start are more likely to be interested in additional sustainable features.

For example, the HVAC system is a crucial part of any home design and requires consideration since piping often runs below ground. Clean indoor air is vital to homeowners today, but so is reducing emissions. Air conditioning accounts for 3.94% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which may not seem like much, but it is a lot for cold air.

Custom home builders can improve the energy impact of HVAC systems by giving owners other ways of cooling their homes. For instance, they might install plenty of windows for fresh air or use green building materials that support energy efficiency and natural temperature control.

Similarly, customers who request renewable energy in their houses are more likely to want EV charging integration. While the U.S. lags behind Europe and China in terms of EV ownership, EVs are the fastest-growing category of vehicle registrations among Americans. This clearly indicates more and more homeowners will want a space to park their electric vehicles, specifically a covered area where a professional can install a home charger.

Additionally, custom home builders are rethinking the materials they use for their projects. The materials a house is made of play a significant role in energy efficiency, which will be a top concern for sustainability-minded buyers. There are a growing number of green building materials on the market, ranging from reclaimed wood to slate and cellulose. Even the insulation material in a home can be sustainably-sourced. Choosing green building materials contributes to homeowners’ overarching sustainable lifestyle while supporting energy efficiency.

Sustainable Home Design and Renewable Energy

Renewable energy and sustainability go hand in hand. Buyers who choose to purchase a custom house are more likely to want solar power in addition to other sustainability features. Custom home builders are changing how they approach home design, aiming for low-emissions, net-zero homes from the start. By integrating renewable energy and sustainable building materials, the house of the future will be better for people and the environment.

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Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Dec 21, 2022

Really snart home builders are puttung in a very large main power feed so rhey have plenty of capacity to handle large solar systems AND Battery Storage.  The vehicle power outlets should allow for 100 amp 240 volt service and have adequatec airflow to allow for battery cooling not to form a heat loop. 

     The home should be made very efficient with blown foan insulation. Windows away from the direct suns heat and a high SEER Heat Pump. 

    Tge orientation of the home is also very important and is seldom done. An East West axis is best with the back of the home facing South with a long shaded back porch area. Shade trees can help a home keep cool and give oxygen to the area. The use of low VOW material is very good for the indoor air quality. 

    Very few builders conside any of these areas. The few who do will have very happy customers. 

Jane Marsh's picture
Thank Jane for the Post!
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