Wall Street Journal Reports on “Builders’ New Power Play: Net-Zero Homes”

“Net-zero homes are going mainstream, if the home-building industry has anything to do with it,” reports Kris Hudson in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) this week. Hudson covered the recent International Builders Show in Las Vegas. Featured as the National Association of Home Builders’ “New American Home” was a model, net-zero energy house.

These high efficiency homes powered with rooftop photovoltaic panels have been seen as a niche product for the affluent who can afford custom homes, Hudson writes. Many customers just aren’t willing to pay any additional cost up front even if that investment will be repaid over time in energy cost savings.

“But some builders, motivated by what they deem as rising demand from home buyers and state and local regulators, are aiming to change those perceptions by designing such homes for the mass market,” according to Hudson.

C. R. Herro, vice president of environmental affairs at Meritage Homes Corp., claims the company can achieve net-zero status in homes costing as little as $200,000 in certain markets. The company plans to build 50 net-zero homes in 2015.

“Net-zero is technologically and financially solved,” Herro was quoted as saying. “It’s now a matter of the consumer catching up to that potential. That’s probably another three years.”

But not all agree. In this nascent market, demand is still too low for many home builders to do more than put a toe in the water. Others “prefer to offer energy-efficient homes outfitted with solar power rather than those fully achieving net-zero status,” the WSJ reported.

Read the full Wall Street Journal article