De Young Properties unveiled the 36-unit project Tuesday in Clovis, northeast of Fresno. The company has spent years redesigning its signature floor plans to include cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. The goal is to minimize the building’s electrical load and install enough rooftop solar to cover what remains, matching consumption and production over the year.
In practice, that boils down to improvements in the building envelope, which keeps air conditioning in and summer heat out. That’s not so hard in temperate coastal zones, but it’s a whole different story in the sun-baked Central Valley, which was forecast to hit 108 degrees Tuesday.
California is driving new home construction to net-zero energy by 2020 through the building code, as part of a broader climate goal to cut greenhouse gases from its economy. The first homes in De Young’s EnVision community will be completed in Q2 2018.
“We know that at some point the state will require everyone to do this. Why not learn it ahead of time, get used to it and figure out how to bring costs down earlier?” said Executive Vice President Brandon De Young. “You’re spending less on your energy bill, and the home’s going to be more comfortable as well.”
That quest has attracted some notable allies: Utility Pacific Gas & Electric and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) partnered in the endeavor to gather data on the energy improvements and the broader impact on the grid from this type of development.