One of the key markets for solar is residential solar. While most people think about adding solar to an existing home, an increasing number of builders and states are offering solar as a standard option of even including solar as part of the building process. That’s what a number of home builders and solar installers discussed during a recent session at the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) annual conference Solar Power Colorado this week.
“Solar on new homes is a niche part of the market,” explained session moderator John Bringenberg, a solar developer with Oak Leaf Partners. “I think it’s a catalyst as a solar product.…There are neighborhoods in…where virtually every home in two or three blocks has solar. So that means if you’re a home on one of those streets and you don’t have solar, you’re home is essentially devalued and that reaches tipping point.”
“It’s very seldom you get that kind of concentration of solar,” Bringenberg says, observing that it’s certainly not the case in existing neighborhoods where one or two homes may opt to add solar power in later. “So i think solar in new construction is a catalyst for adoption of solar on a broad basis,” he says.
Colorado’s New Town Builders is one of the companies in Colorado that’s been building a lot of new solar homes, particularly in the Stapleton area. The company really started diving into solar homes in 2008 and 2009, according to New Town Homes Vice President of Operations and Technology Bill Rectanus.
Even when the real estate market was down New Town was building it’s homes with solar. “What we found is it was really a hook to get people in the door, Rectanus said. “It was really successful at getting us an opportunity to talk to more people through the inclusion of solar.”
The company has continued to build it’s solar homes with HERS energy efficiency ratings of 40.
“There’s a point in the HERS score where you get a diminishing return for adding energy efficiency features and that’s the point, the magic point where it’s time to add renewables to your house, to bring that HERS score down further. I believe that’s HERS 40,” Rectanus contended.
Last year the home builder got even more aggressive as they attempted to continue to distinguish their homes from the competition. And in 2013 it began offering its Zen series homes with solar as net-zero energy homes. “It’s not an option, it just comes with the home,” Rectanus said.
This year the company will try moving the zero-energy home out of the Stapleton project and into the suburbs. “We’re going to take our zero-energy product line out of that uber-successful community and put it out in the suburbs, with a whole different set of competitors and a whole different market and see if it stands on its own. That’s our proof of concept for this year,” Rectanus said.Tweet