The Proven Benefits of Near Zero Energy Homes at Premier Gardens
In 2004, Premier Garden’s Near Zero Energy Homes (ZEHs) and Cresleigh Rosewood’s Non ZEHs were built side-by-side, providing BIRA the opportunity to evaluate two large scale communities of occupied single-family homes. BIRA, working closely with key partners, has collected and analyzed electricity (provided by SMUD) and gas data (provided by PG&E), analyzed buyer demographics (studied and reported by RAND), and evaluated the efficacy of ZEH system components (SMUD’s detailed monitoring of 18 Near ZEHs). The Premier Gardens community has demonstrated the impact Near Zero Energy Homes have on multiple stakeholders, beyond the homeowner.
Premier Homes first Near Zero Energy community, Premier Gardens, was an overwhelming success story. Not only did the homes sell faster than expected, but Premier Homes received valuable local and national media coverage including a segment on CNBC highlighting the utility bill savings of the Premier homeowners. Successful projects like Premier Gardens encourage other builders to take notice of the Zero Energy Home concept. As a result of the success at Premier Gardens, Premier Homes has continued to build Near Zero Energy Communities. In 2007, Premier Homes will build their most energy efficient community yet, Premier Lakeside, offering significantly higher levels of efficiency compared to Premier Gardens, again as standard in each of the homes.
The Premier Garden’s project has contributed significantly to the knowledge base for building high performance homes that deliver expected energy saving results. This case study has created evidence that shows building Near ZEHs is both technically and practically possible for production homebuilders. All stakeholders can reference actual energy use data from Premier Gardens to prove that ZEHs work serving multiple stakeholder goals.
The Premier Gardens project has been as successful for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) as it has been for Premier Homes. The demonstrated ability of the Near ZEHs to cut peak electrical demand significantly over Cresleigh’s SMUD Advantage Homes delighted SMUD officials. The success at Premier has prompted SMUD to create a Zero Energy Homes program to begin to leverage the peak shaving power of Near ZEHs.
The benefits of the well-built Premier Near Zero Energy Homes are numerous. A professionally engineered and tested HVAC system provides better comfort and indoor air quality for occupants. Low-emissivity windows provide added comfort and protect furniture and fabric from fading and wear. Better insulation and testing provide more even temperatures throughout the home and better sound insulation from outside noise. All the ZEH features, including PV, provide 60% whole house energy savings and make the home more affordable to own and operate.
Fig. 1: Building Integrated PV in Premier Gardens
Fig. 2: Building Features for Premier Gardens and Cresleigh Rosewood
BIRA 2006 BA deliverable 12.E.2: Occupied Home Evaluation Results - www.builtbyPremier.com