Fourteen years later, Virginia community’s energy savings still stacking up

In 2002, Stu Rose and Trina Duncan moved into the first home in a tiny Virginia neighborhood focused on achieving net zero energy use and sustainable living. Fourteen years later, the Garden Atriums community near the Chesapeake Bay is complete and nearly independent of the energy grid.

Six of the seven homes are occupied. Husband and wife developers Rose and Duncan have downsized into the final home and have placed the original nearly 5,000 square foot prototype house on the market.

More than 12,000 people have visited the community. Rose has spoken at events ranging from local Sierra Club to a NASA sustainability conference as well as to groups in Ireland, Finland and Canada. He’s also working with a screenwriter on a movie.

Monthly energy bills are zero most of the year and under $100 even during peak times, compared to $200-$400 and more for homes of similar size, Rose says. PV panels and geothermal systems power the homes. Rooftop water heaters provide hot water. Garden Atrium homes build credit with Dominion Virginia Power during the fall, winter and spring and then use those credits when running air conditioning during the summer. Each homeowner pays $8.40 a month for being hooked up to the grid.

Passive energy storage is via stones, fountains and other features that soak up sunlight from the atriums and release heat at night. “The design intent is to be sure there’s enough thermal mass to keep the house comfortable until the sun comes up the next morning,” Rose says.

Read the full story. (Southeast Energy News)