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Daily Real Estate News  |  April 20, 2011  |   No More Utility Bills? More Builders Spotlight 'Green'
Major builders say they are ramping up efforts to build homes that cost less to maintain and that you can buy at affordable prices.

"Just about all the larger builders are focusing on energy efficiency," says Kevin Morrow of the National Association of Home Builders.

But while net-zero building--a home that’s designed to produce as much energy as it uses annually--has become common in Canada, few affordable net-zero housing units have popped up in the United States, says David Johnston, author of Toward a Zero Energy Home.

More U.S builders are planning to change that.

To celebrate Earth Day on Friday, Meritage Homes announced that it will offer a "net- zero" home. While a nine-panel rooftop solar array will become a standard feature on some of its homes, home owners who can afford a $10,000 upgrade will be able to get 24 more solar panels, which can reduce utility bills to zero. Prices for the homes will start at $140,000 and will be available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Texas.

“It’s a new way of building homes,” C.R. Herro, vice president of environmental affairs for Arizona-based Meritage, told the USA Today.

Last month, KB Home announced it will include a small, six-panel rooftop solar array as a standard feature in 10 of its Southern California communities. The solar panel will be capable of shaving 30 percent off energy costs in a 1,800- to 2,000-square-foot home.

"Shiny granite can only go so far" to lure buyers from low-price foreclosures, says Nate Kredich of the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council. Kredich says builders like Meritage are "really pushing the envelope" on sustainability.

Source: “Builders Offer Green Tract Homes With Nearly Zero Utility Bills,” USA Today (April 20, 2011)

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