The ‘Future of Housing’ Has Arrived in All-Electric Colorado Developments

Grand Junction homebuilder Darin Carei has built all-electric, solar-powered net-zero homes. After building energy-efficient Energy Star-certified homes since 2011 he wanted to take the concept a step further by not adding fossil fuel to the homes.

According to the Alaska Beacon, the fifth-leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado is its more than 2.5 million residential and commercial buildings, said Ari Rosenblum, spokesperson for the Colorado Energy Office.

Colorado is promoting all-electric buildings to help the state achieve its emissions reduction targets of 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 100% by 2050 from 2005 levels. All-electric buildings can also reduce utility costs for residents and business owners, who currently spend more than $7 billion on utilities each year, Rosenblum said in an email to Newsline.

Senergy Builders is working with EnergyWise Consultants, a local Energy Star consultant, and Atlasta Solar Center in Grand Junction to install 7-kilowatt solar panel systems to each rooftop in his Brookfield subdivision. Each system is designed to produce 100% of the homeowners’ energy needs.

“The home produces as much energy as it consumes — that’s the key,” Carei said. “We are producing a net-zero, good quality product with energy-efficient appliances, an energy-efficient mechanical system (air pumps for heating and cooling), and solar panels on the roof to fuel those efficient items.”

While solar panels are not uncommon, not adding natural gas as a second fuel to buildings is less common, Carei said.

But he’s not the only developer choosing to forgo gas to power the inside of buildings. BOA Builders owner Charlie Gechter is currently building three houses in his Shadow Mesa subdivision, also in Grand Junction, and a five-unit townhome near Colorado Mesa University, all of which will be all-electric, without any gas lines brought in.

Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley also decided to skip natural gas for its Basalt Vista project, a 27-unit affordable housing development in the town of Basalt. Powered 100% by solar panels, Basalt Vista is a collaboration between the Roaring Fork Habitat affiliate, Pitkin County, and the Roaring Fork School District, said homeowner services director and volunteer coordinator Carolyn Meadowcroft.

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