Colorado building thousands of ‘net zero’ homes
DENVER Green home builders are optimistic that the thousands of energy-efficient “net-zero” houses being built across Colorado could push the designs into the mainstream and make them affordable.”It just takes a little more planning. We should just not build any more crappy homes,” said Norbert Klelbl, the master developer of Geos, which is expected to start construction on a 250-home neighborhood in Arvada this summer.Net-zero homes are not dependent on natural-gas or coal-powered electricity, and all the energy used is generated through solar and wind technologies.At the former Lowry bombing range in Aurora, the Australian development firm Lend Lease is proposing 3,800 houses on 503 acres at a cost of $2 billion. It would be a net-zero energy, carbon and waste project.Krista Sprenger, project manager for the Aurora project, told The Denver Post in Sunday’s editions that the cost for building such projects could go down over time.”When more and more people start building and living this way, the cost of this type of building will really go down, and our hope is that this becomes standard practice rather than something that is unique and different,” Sprenger said.Another project in Fort Collins would make the city’s downtown one of the nation’s first net-zero districts. The project has received $13 million in federal and state grants. Other net-zero communities are planned in Salida and east of Carbondale along the Roaring Fork River.Deb Kleinman, executive director of Colorado’s chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, said the state is seeing an increase like never before in the number of energy-efficient homes being constructed.”People are watching Colorado, and net-zero will soon become the new goal to push for,” she told The Denver Post.President Barack Obama highlighted the promise of Colorado’s new energy technologies in February, choosing the Denver Museum of Nature & Science as the site to sign the $787 billion economic stimulus package.At the time, Obama praised Boulder for its “smart grid” project in which a fully a networked grid will deliver renewable energy like wind and solar power, along with that generated by fuels like coal, to customers through a largely automated system.