Shea San Diego Recognized for Energy Efficient Homes

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After only a year of a concerted effort to include energy-efficient features in many of its homes, Shea Homes San Diego is already receiving significant recognition for its efforts.

June 06, 2000

After only a year of a concerted effort to include energy-efficient features in many of its homes, Shea Homes San Diego is already receiving significant recognition for its efforts.

Shea Homes San Diego was recently honored for its energy-efficient building programs. In one community, the builder offers solar powered water heaters like the ones pictured above.

 

The San Diego Regional Energy Of-fice, a non-profit arm of a coalition of local governments recently presented Shea with its Energy Leadership Award. Set up to monitor a regional energy plan that was put in place in 1997, the non-profit singled out Shea for two specific initiatives, says Ryan Green, manager of community development for the builder.

The first offers homebuyers in five of its communities a standard package of tightly sealed HVAC systems as well as spectrally selected windows that combine for a 30% reduction in heating and cooling usage. According to Green, about 400 homes have been built with the packages to date. And because the homes meet requirements set forth in the federal Energy Star program, buyers can qualify for mortgages with more favorable terms.

The second initiative offers buyers in Shea's Canterbury community near Carlsbad the option of purchasing solar powered water heaters, which the builder provides without a markup. So far, only a handful of buyers have ordered the $2600 option, but that is likely to change soon, says Green. California Gov. Gray Davis recently enacted legislation that will, beginning in January, offer $750 cash rebates for purchasers of solar powered water heaters. Green says the rebate will put the overall cost of these systems within a range where they nearly pay for themselves.

Green says the Energy Leadership award is gratifying, but the company is really only just beginning what has become a full-blown strategic objective within the company to build "greener" homes over the long run.

"We are trying to take the technology that has been available for many years and try to put that in a house without there being any cost, or just a nominal cost to the buyer," say Green. "At the same time we will be helping the environment and the image of the builder. It's nice to be able to say to the public that we are doing our part on every level that we can."

The first initiative, to increase the efficiency of its homes through the use of HVAC and windows is part of a partnership with ConSol's ComfortWise program. Costs of the systems range from $900 to $2000 per home depending upon its size. Green says it easier to spread the system's cost over the price of a home over 2400 square feet than smaller homes.

"We have to make sure that everything that we add to the cost of the home, people will be able to look at what they get and say its worth it," says Green. "This is something that we look at on a project by project basis."

Shea is now actively testing products to make smaller homes more energy efficient and is even looking further ahead to the possibility of offering costly photovoltaic systems via the use of grant money to get the cost of each system down to around $2000 or $3000.

"Essentially we have a mini research and development team and we are going to push every product that we possibly can as long as it will work for the people buying the homes," says Green.

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