Californian housing estate gets solar as standard

Californian housing estate gets solar as standard
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April 24, 2008 A new housing estate with solar power included as a standard feature in all homes has been officially opened in San Bernardino County, California. Opened in conjunction with Earth Day, "Harmony" is a planned residential development made possible by a collaboration between CenterStone Communities and Petersen-Dean Roofing Systems that will lower residents’ utility costs by up to 50%.

With homes for families, as well as singles and couples, each of the 56 detached homes to be built at Harmony will be topped by a 2.3-kW integrated solar roof tile system. The rooftop solar system and other energy efficiency and green features built into the homes are expected to lower utility costs by 40-50%. In new home communities, solar is often only available as an extra-cost option, however the PD Solar Roofing System is a standard, fully warranted feature at Harmony.

The solar systems to be installed are PV systems with cells made from crystalline silicon, the same material that makes up semi-conductor chips in computers. When sunlight strikes the PV cells embedded in the modules, electrons are released, generating direct electrical current. This direct current is channeled through copper wire down into a utility box, converted to alternating current, and connected to the home’s electrical meter.

In addition to the solar rooftop systems, the homes also are being built with a full array of energy efficient features such as vinyl-framed, dual-paned Low-E glass windows; Energy Star-rated appliances; and mastic adhesive-sealed ductwork that, when combined with other measures, result in efficiencies that outperform California’s Title 24 Energy Code requirements by more than 17%.

Various other green technologies are also being utilized, including planned sequencing to minimize construction waste, more than 60% of which is then recycled. The homes will be built with engineered wood products from fast-growing, commercially-farmed trees. Additionally, incorporating fly ash into the concrete provides for a strong product that requires less water, along with a 20% savings on the need for energy-intensive production of cement. Other air quality considerations include the use of low volatile organic compound paints and cabinet stains and improved insulation materials. There are currently three model homes available for viewing with all of the “green” features incorporated into them. The three floorplan designs offer a choice of one- and two-story arrangements with space for three to six bedrooms and up to four full bathrooms across 2,222 to 3,378 square feet.

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