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Green Building News

Small Florida Homes With Solar Features

Greencastle, a Florida builder of green homes, recently launched two new designs that include 3-kW photovoltaic arrays. Greencastle will build the 1,543-square-foot MicroModern model on a client's lot for $299,000. Asked about the lack of shading for the south-facing windows, Greencastle president Shawn Harvey commented, “The architect I worked with didn’t want to put shading over those windows, and try as I might I couldn’t get him to change his mind.”
Image Credit: GreenCastle Inc.

Solar Hot Water and PV Make Them Near-Zero-Energy

CAPE CORAL, FL — Greencastle, a green builder in Cape Coral, Florida, is aiming at the small-home market with three new designs for near-zero-energy homes. Called the MicroModern, the MicroFlorida, and the MicroTuscany, each of the three models measures under 1,600 square feet. According to Greencastle president Shawn Harvey, the homes are “not too big, not too small, but just right.”

The energy-efficient homes have low-e double-glazed windows (0.30 solar heat gain coefficient), Icynene-insulated attics, and above-grade walls made with insulating concrete forms (ICFs). The tight, well insulated envelopes “should reduce the cooling demand to probably one ton,” said Harvey. The homes will include metal roofing, hard-surface flooring (Travertine tile and hardwood), and LED lighting.

Greencastle will build one of the homes on your lot for about $300,000, a price which includes a solar hot water system and a 3-kW photovoltaic array. Although the PV array isn’t big enough to provide all of the electricity for a typical family, it should make a big dent in the average utility bill. “I would love for these homes to be true zero-energy homes,” said Harvey. “But really, what I am selling is a near-zero design. The hot water demand has been almost eliminated and lighting demand is reduced dramatically. I know that the 3-kW array should more than meet the demand of the air conditioning system.”

According to Harvey, Florida builders are facing a tough economic climate. “If I told you the market was challenging, that would be an understatement,” he said. “There are tens of thousands of foreclosed properties around here. A year ago when we developed the concept for these homes, it was clear that things were going to get tougher. We decided we were going to do our best to create demand. We believe that good design will sell if priced right. Based on the reaction we have had to these houses, we believe there is a market for this niche, and that this niche has been totally unserved. Certainly, there are days when there is no good news at all and you have to work at keeping your chin up and moving forward in the belief that things will improve.”

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