Value Minded Net-Zero Community Development Underway in New York (Part 1 of 3)

Posted By DEMILEC || 30-Jun-2013

The Preserve at Mountain Vista is a new 9 home development being built in New Paltz, New York with a special focus on achieving net-zero energy consumption for all homes constructed. All of the homes built at the Preserve at Mountain Vista feature Demilec USA Spray Foam, applied by The Foam Guys out of Glens Falls, New York, to help achieve their net zero goals. The following interview with builder Anthony Aebi, president of Greenhill Contracting and the mastermind behind The Preserve at Mountain Vista, is part 1 of a 3 part series of interviews with the builder, architect and the spray foam installation company involved with the development. Click here to read the interview with Dave Toder with BOLDER Architecture, the architect and designer behind The Preserve at Mountain Vista. Be sure to check back for part 3 of the interview series featuring The Foam Guys, to be published upon the completion of the development.

Anthony Aebi is the founder and president of Greenhill Contracting, a new construction home builder with the mission of achieving net zero energy consumption for all of the houses he builds. Anthony uses technologies such as solar energy, geothermal heating and cooling, spray foam insulation, insulated concrete forms and heat recovery ventilation to build the homes of the future at an affordable price today. Anthony firmly believes that there is no reason that net zero energy usage cannot be attained today at an affordable price for all home buyers.

Demilec: Could you please explain Net Zero building for people who may be unfamiliar with the concept?

A net zero building is one that can (depending on the occupants energy usage) produce as much or more energy during a year then it uses.

Demilec: How do you educate potential homebuyers on how the energy savings from a net zero home can offset the increased initial cost of construction?

Since I am one of the only people building net zero homes, this has been a challenge. I typically explain that the money that a typical person spends on energy ($4,000 – 6,000/year) for a regular built home is enough to buy an additional $70,000 mortgage (the interest is tax deductible). When you take into account the potential tax credits of over $20,000 from the geothermal and solar systems, a regular built home that is about $100,000 less can actually cost more. This is where I lose people since they can’t believe it or don’t understand it.

Demilec: What was your goal with building “The Preserve at Mountain Vista”?

My goal was to demonstrate that if I built in volume, like most production builders, I could get the cost for the type of Zero Energy home I build to equal about as much per square foot as a typical production built home. I feel that The Preserve at Mountain Vista could be the tipping point that pushes more builders into net zero construction as the project clearly shows that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Demilec: Why did you choose to use spray foam insulation in “The Preserve”?

I believe the advantages that the different types of spray foam can give a home are not attainable any other way. The closed cell under the slab seals out all soil gases and provides a seamless, vastly superior product to any other under slab insulation. The combination of open cell and closed cell foam applied to the roof deck caps off my buildings perfectly, providing a real R-60 that helps complete my ICF wall structure that runs from the footings to the roof.

Demilec: We are happy that you chose Demilec Authorized Contractor, The Foam Guys, for the project. Is this your first time working with them? What has your experience working with them been like?

I have been using the Foam Guys for about 3 years and have been happy with the very clean site they leave when they are finished. They also allow the contractor to always do an inspection of their work before they are completed so that the contractor can be guaranteed to have the job they wanted. My experience with the Foam Guys has been leaps and bounds better than with any other foam contractor.

Demilec: Do you see net zero construction ever becoming a standard in the building industry? If so, how long until this can be achieved?

If my project is successful and we publicize the whole thing I don’t see why this won’t be the defining moment.

For more information about Anthony Aebi and Greenhill Contracting, please call 845-594-5076 or visit them online at www.greenhillcontracting.com

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