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Field Evaluation: Madera Subdivision

The Florida Energy Extension Service (FEES) at the University of Florida is overseeing the design and development of the first eight homes of the energy and resource-efficient 88-home Madera community in Gainesville, Florida.

Developed by GreenTrust, LLC, the homes will showcase green building technologies and will exceed ENERGY STAR ® criteria. Products used in the homes are chosen according to their environmental sensitivity, such as the absence of VOCs and toxic compounds, or products with high recycled-materials content. The homes will include an inside-the-envelope HVAC system, insulated concrete form (ICF) walls, soft-coat low-E windows, and downsized compact HVAC distribution.

Construction on the homes began in January 2003 and the model center was slated for completion in Fall 2003. A ribbon-cutting event is planned for Spring 2004.

With their green building systems, the homes will also qualify for green financing. Fannie Mae will offer its Home Performance Power program to potential homebuyers in the Madera community. The program recognizes that lower operating costs from energy-efficient design and construction can result in added income for homebuyers. The program offers 100% financing on the supplemental costs of efficiency upgrades.

Among other environmentally friendly features, the homes will include four new technologies from the PATH Technology Inventory:

  • High Content Fly Ash Concrete
  • Light-Gauge Steel Framing
  • Recycled Content Gypsum Wallboard
  • Tankless Water Heater

To improve termite resistance, the builder is using the Termi-Mesh System, which is a fine marine-grade stainless steel mesh that’s installed, in part, around high-risk entry points of a house before the concrete slab is poured. In addition to Termi-Mesh, the home is built with borate pressure-treated sheathing and sub-flooring and lumber. Additional termite protection was achieved by using light gauge steel framing in the interior walls and poured concrete in exterior walls.

Additional Features of the Madera Subdivision

All of Madera’s homes will be constructed to exceed conventional performance standards in the Gainesville (and Florida) markets. Beyond the basic performance-enhancing features, upgrade packages will be designed to meet meaningful performance standards in the areas of energy efficiency, water efficiency and termite resistance. Upgrades will be offered beyond the basic performance configuration. For example, an ENERGY STAR Appliance upgrade will be offered (dishwasher, refrigerator, washer and dryer).

The on-site sales program will be developed to feature Madera’s standard and optional performance upgrades that differentiate its homes from more conventionally built area homes. The Florida Energy Extension Service will work directly with product manufacturers to provide the on-site sales staff with technical support, displays and informational materials.

Homes in Madera, which will range in size from about 1,600 to 2,600 square feet, are expected to sell for between $180,000 and $250,000. Under the cooperative research agreement with Gainesville builder Carter Construction, the upgrades can add no more than 7 percent to the cost. That would increase the $180,000 home to $192,600. The projected savings for reduced water and electricity over a 10-year period is about $10,000.

Juddy Carter, one of the project partners and owner of Carter Construction Company, noted, “There’s a market for green building, and builders can make a profit.”

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