Ramona Madhosingh-Hector, Urban Sustainability Agent
The ground breaking ceremony for the first Zero Energy Home in Pinellas County was held on June 25th in Palm Harbor. Zero Energy Home, or ZEH for short, offers the homeowner the luxury of a tight building envelope, energy efficient appliances, and renewable energy options, which when combined reduces and eliminates the home’s dependence on a power grid.
It may seem far fetched to have a home that does not generate a power bill but the reality is that it’s already been done in the State of Florida. The Florida Solar Energy Center Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership partnered with builder Tommy Williams to build the first true net zero home in Florida. The Longleaf home in Gainesville,FL was built in 2009 and was assessed on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) with a HERS Index of -2 which means that it can produce more energy than it consumes. When this happens, the homeowner may receive a credit from the electric company!
ZEH homes in Florida rely on solar panels to create the energy that the home needs. The homes also employ other green features like dual flush toilets, low flow fixtures and native landscaping. The Gainesville experience resulted in the production of a series of “ready made” home plans for Net-Zero Energy homes.
The Palm Harbor ZEH will be built by Marc Rutenberg in the Hawks Landing subdivision in northern Pinellas County in partnership with Zero Energy America. The concrete pour started at 11:40 a.m. and was performed by Blue World Crete, makers of Blue Crete, a low carbon footprint cement product. The Palm Harbor ZEH will be complete in 2011 but in the meantime check out the video link and stay tuned for the PBS documentary that will be produced by Bluewater Media.