Winter Park’s First Net-Zero Energy Home Under Construction

There’s excitement building on Pine Avenue in Winter Park.  Excitement, because the area’s first Net Zero Energy home is under construction.  The Home, 4,565 square feet under air, but offering a staggering 8,000 square  feet of overall living space, is designed to not only fit in beautifully to the Winter Park neighborhood, but also to offer its owner a customized living space, all while drawing zero net energy from the City’s grid.

Rob Smith, of e2 Homes, an expert at Custom Home Building and Green Building practices, is proud to have been the builder chosen by the Wilson family, the longtime owners of the property on Pine Avenue.  Rebekkah and Rick Wilson, along with their two girls, Elizabeth and Leora, had been searching for the right builder to make their dreams of building a green home on their own property a reality.  The family has owned their property on Pine Avenue since 1992, and knew that this was the spot that they wanted to be in for a very long time to come.  In 2008, Rick, an engineer, and Rebekkah, an international contracts expert, began their search for the right firm to help realize such a dream.  The couple searched throughout both South and Central Florida, and were thrilled when they found Rob Smith of e2 Homes, right in Winter Park.  They knew that Rob understood their vision, and his nearly ten years of experience in Custom Home building gave them confidence that he would deliver the construction excellence they were seeking.

The Wilson’s home is an exhibition of creative innovations and expert energy and environmental savings tactics.  Creating a net zero home starts with a smart building strategy, is based in the structural elements (also known as the building envelope), and is completed by the custom details that contribute to everyday living.  The home on Pine Avenue intelligently and beautifully incorporates all of these elements.

It was important to the homeowners that most of the existing trees be spared during construction, so the home was placed to avoid disturbing as many natural elements as possible. Many of the trees, shrubs and bushes that could not be avoided were either relocated prior to lot clearing, or have been removed and potted for placement when construction is complete. Although the home is perfectly sized for their current family lifestyle, with a Master Suite on the first floor, and additional bedrooms on the second, a portion of the lot was left for a potential future expansion to accommodate an in-law suite.

Light plays a huge role in the feel of this home.  The 962 square foot roof over the patio not only softly diffuses natural light with semi-transparent materials, but also serves as a 13.5 kw solar array system, the largest to be installed in Winter Park to date.   There are many windows in the home that provide as much natural light as possible, without allowing the intense direct light of the Florida sun to enter the home, thereby increasing energy efficiency (by decreasing heat gain and reducing the need for artificial lighting).

The construction plan is innovative in its use of environmentally friendly materials that increase indoor air quality, energy efficiency and overall durability of the home.   With the humid Florida climate, one of the Wilson’s building strategies was to minimize or eliminate the use of wood and gypsum (drywall).  The Wilsons have chosen an Autoclaved Aerated Concrete block (AAC), called Aercon for both exterior and interior walls.  Therefore, very little wood and drywall will be used.  Additionally, reclaimed materials are being used wherever possible.  For example, the bricks from the original driveway will be reused for the new driveway, and the home will also feature over 4000 square feet of reclaimed oak flooring from the original home and others in the neighborhood.

The well thought out environmentally friendly building strategy does not stop with the structure itself.  Outside, a 7000 gallon cistern will collect rainwater for use in landscaping as well as toilets and urinals.  In addition to the traditional uses for the collected rainwater, these homeowners will also use the water to replenish their planned saltwater fish tanks featured in the home.

The smart building strategies incorporated in the project, all contribute to the home’s net zero energy consumption, and help to make the Wilson’s family’s vision a reality.

The project is registered for green certifications with LEED, FGBC, and NAHB.

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