Posted on November 15, 2013

Clovis: Zero Net Energy House Benefits Homeowners, Environment

By Matt Nauman and Tracy Correa

CLOVIS — A Zero Net Energy (ZNE) house that was unveiled to the public today (Nov. 15) represents a huge step forward for Central Valley homeowners.

The ZNE premise is simple: The home will generate as much energy as it consumes.

From left, PG&E's Greg Pruett joins Brandon De Young, Rob Hammon of BIRAenergy, John Limpus of De Young Properties and Jerry De Young at today’s Zero Net Energy home unveiling in Clovis. (Photos by Matt Nauman).

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the home in the new De Young CountryCourt neighborhood. Representatives from De Young Properties, PG&E and local officials were on hand to mark the occasion.

PG&E provided technical assistance to the homebuilders. BIRAenergy Consulting worked with De Young and PG&E on the project. PG&E also contributed $5,000 to a nearby De Young home that was recently part of a fund-raiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

“We are incredibly proud to have been a partner in making this home a reality,” said Greg Pruett, a PG&E senior vice president. “ZNE homes are the next step in a revolution, not just an evolution, in how we use energy more efficiently.”

PG&E has long focused on helping homes and offices in California become more energy efficient. As Pruett noted, Californians use 3 percent less energy today, per capita, than they did in 1990, and 50 percent less than the average American.

Among the dignitaries on hand for the ceremony and home tour were several members of the Clovis City Council. Raj Beasla, PG&E’s corporate affairs director for the Central Valley, joined Pruett at the event.

On the cutting edge

In an interview with Currents before today’s event, Brandon De Young talked about why his family’s company built the ZNE home.

The Zero Net Energy home features high efficient heating and cooling, a rooftop photovoltaic system and even an electrical vehicle charging station in the garage.

“We understand that this is where we are going in the future,” said DeYoung, vice president of operations for DeYoung Properties. “We are trying to do our part to be at the cutting edge.”

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home features 2,064 square-feet of living space.

The home’s energy-efficiency features support California’s Long-term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan that all new residential construction will be zero net energy by 2020.

The single-story home — which looks like any other home — has an impressive list of features all designed to save money and energy consumption.

The home includes:

  • A rooftop (5.88 kW) solar photovoltaic system
  • High efficient heating and cooling
  • Dual-pane, triple-layer Energy Star-qualified windows
  • An electric vehicle charging station in the garage
  • Cool roof tiles to defer sunlight and heat away from the home (important during hot summers in the Valley)
  • Ducts in conditioned space to increase energy efficiency

The home also includes an advanced, heat pump water heater. The 245 percent efficient, hybrid heat pump water heater is able to harvest heat from the air around it and transfer the heat into the water of its tank. Typically, heat pump water heaters can be two- to three-times more energy efficient than conventional water heaters. (Click here to see a diagram of a heat pump water heater and how it works.)

And the home is equipped with 100 percent LED (light emitting diode) lights. LED lights are designed to save money and energy usage.

“It’s very affordable and it’s  going to pay for itself in a few years,” said Rob Hammon, the president of BIRAenergy.

Home as a model for future builds

DeYoung Properties has built homes in the Valley for nearly four decades. The DeYoungs are third-generation homebuilders — a family business that began with John Bonadelle, who built the first of more than 17,000 homes 60 years ago and is considered one of the area’s homebuilding pioneers. Bonadelle’s daughter and son-in-law, Paula and Jerry DeYoung, established DeYoung Properties and have brought their children, including son Brandon, into the family business. DeYoung Properties has built more than 7,000 homes. Brandon De Young’s other grandfather, Joseph De Young, was a PG&E vice president who worked for the company for more than 40 years.

“We have a true passion for designing quality-crafted homes,” said Paula DeYoung, executive vice president of DeYoung Properties. She said that working on this ZNE home “has reinvigorated our passion.”

PG&E's Greg Pruett calls Zero Net Energy Homes a revolution in how energy is being used more efficiently.

The goal of the ZNE home was to get the design process down and use it as a model for future homes. It will not be for sale at this point, said Brandon DeYoung. “We will analyze how it runs. It will be a prototype… We will not be offering it to the public just yet,” he said.

The cost of purchasing this type of DeYoung home isn’t being revealed just yet. Brandon DeYoung said it would likely be priced higher than a traditional home, but the homeowner would save money over time. “The savings will be what you save in energy costs,” he said.

Paula DeYoung credited PG&E for its “professional and knowledgeable” assistance on the ZNE home. “It has been a very positive experience working with them, with their level of expertise,” she said.

“This ZNE home is leading the way to the future,” she said.

In his remarks, PG&E’s Pruett echoed that sentiment.

“It’s truly an amazing concept.” Pruett said. “It’s not just California or the United States, it’s really world-leading technology.”

Email Matt Nauman at matt.nauman@pge.com.

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