Archive for October 2013

I got a call the other day from a reporter that works for a magazine I won’t name, that started the conversation by asking me this question.  “I understand that City Ventures specializes in building Net Zero Energy Efficient homes and that it doesn’t cost any extra.  We’d like to interview you and ask how that’s possible.”  The most interesting thing about the question is that she could do an entire story on just me clarifying why her question was flawed.  It’s one of those questions where just the phrasing of the question required me to spend the first 30 minutes of our conversation educating her on how to rephrase the question so it’s more accurate.  Let me show you why.

First let me deal with the easy ones.  City Ventures specializes in a LOT more than just building homes.  We find our own land, entitle it, permit it, and then build sell and close homes all over Coastal California.  Building Green homes is merely one aspect of what we do.  It’s an important part of what we do, and one we’re very proud of, especially given the fact we’re the only builder that builds the solar, all-electric home, but it’s certainly not the ONLY thing we do.

Second, it absolutely costs more to build Green homes.  If you read the question verbatim it says we build Green homes and they don’t cost any extra.  Well they do.  It definitely costs us more to build Green homes than non-Green homes.  However the more accurate way of phrasing the question is “I understand City Ventures builds Green homes and it doesn’t cost the BUYER any more.  That’s true.  Everything we do in our Green solar all-electric homes are 100% included in the price of the home and the price is comparable to any other new home being sold in the area.  The cost to the buyer of buying Green is zero.  And the monthly utility savings??……well that’s a story for another Blog.

Finally let’s talk about the terms Net Zero Energy and Energy Efficiency.  As you can see the question the reporter asked actually blended the two terms together and that’s not unusual.  I see and hear that a lot.  But they’re two completely different terms and concepts.  You can be energy efficient and not net zero energy AND you can be net zero energy and not energy efficient.

“Energy efficiency” has to do with the USE of energy.  If a light bulb requires X amount of energy to produce a certain amount of light and an LED light bulb requires LESS than X amount of energy to produce the SAME amount of light, the LED bulb is more energy efficient.  It requires LESS amount of energy to produce the SAME amount of whatever.

“Net zero energy” means that the TOTAL amount of energy required to operate something is produced BY the something that is operating.  Sounds confusing.  It isn’t.  Your home requires energy to function.  99% of the homes in this country get the energy required to run them from outside the home.  Mostly from electricity and natural gas produced at plants typically located far from the homes themselves.  We call it the “grid.”  If the home has its own energy source, AND it produces all the energy the home needs so that the energy needed from the “grid” is zero, then that home is a Net Zero Energy home.

That doesn’t mean its “energy efficient”.

If I put a 10KW solar system on the roof of a home and to operate the home is 10KW or less, then I have a Net Zero Energy home.  But if ANYTHING in the home COULD be operated with less energy, than it’s not “Energy Efficient”.  A net zero energy home with incandescent bulbs could be MORE energy efficient if it had LED bulbs.

Net zero energy has to do with the NET TOTAL AMOUNT of energy required, and energy efficiency has to do with the most efficient use OF energy.  Two totally different concepts.  Both concepts are an important aspect of our business model.  Energy efficiency is almost a never ending goal for us because technology is always making things more energy efficient.  Net zero energy, although not a reality yet, is absolutely what we’re striving for in all the homes we build.

A better phrasing of the question would have been, “ I understand one aspect of City Ventures business model is that you build as energy efficient a home as there is on the market with the ultimate goal of building net zero energy homes and that the cost to the buyer is zero.  We’d like to interview you and ask how that’s possible.”

That is a question I’d love to answer

Until next time



The Green Builder’s Journal is written by Herb Gardner, President of City Ventures Home Building Group. Herb has 30 years experience managing the building of residential and apartment communities in over 60 municipalities in 3 different states.

A big proponent of in-fill communities and the urban lifestyle Mr. Gardner has extensive experience in all aspects of residential home building, ranging from land acquisition to warranty management, he specializes in managing teams of people in delivering communities on time, on budget and to the quality standards the marketplace demands.

For Questions, Feedback or observations you can Click here to Email Herb