Nothing but Net

Propane helps the Concept Home 2011 achieve net-zero status.

There are any number of fascinating tidbits associated with BUILDER magazine's Concept Home 2011, a net-zero energy house built by KB Home with design input from Martha Stewart. It will make its debut at the International Builders' Show (IBS) in Orlando, Fla. (Jan. 12-15). Like most show homes, it showcases exemplary building technique, contemporary design, and attractive amenities. But this one in particular is a must-see for construction pros interested in bringing a high-performance green product to their inventory.

Propane and its related applications figure prominently in the home; this was one of the ways the 2,667-square-foot home was able to achieve net-zero status and LEED Platinum for Homes. Other certifications include Masco Environments for Living; EPA WaterSense; EPA Energy Star; IAPMO Green Plumbing Code.

Of even more interest is the fact that using propane added not one extra dime to the cost of greening the house. KB Home estimates that the added cost for sustainable attributes totaled $70,000—about $60,000 for the home's solar energy features and another $10,000 for HVAC system and high-efficiency lighting and windows.

The anticipated sales price for the home is a reasonable $380,000. The increase in the monthly mortgage payment needed to cover the green extras is estimated at $350, but that is largely balanced out by the home's anticipated electric bill: $0. The average electric bill for a conventional Orlando home is between $250 and $350 per month. For most of the year, the electrical savings will offset the increase in the monthly mortgage due to green features.

Propane is the energy source for two Lennox fireplaces, the Montebello 45 in the great room and the 42-inch Elite on the lanai; a 48-inch dual-fuel KitchenAid range with a convection oven; and a Guardian series 20-kilowatt standby generator from Generac Power Systems. The home also has an underground, 125-gallon propane tank. And in the kitchen—a space that really has that Martha Stewart touch—a workstation provides a spot for paying bills or doing homework, but it's also the command center for the home's energy monitoring system, an Internet-based tool that allows homeowners to track their electric, water, and propane consumption as well as solar energy production.

The home will be open for free guided tours during exhibit hours with shuttle bus service from the Westwood entrance of the convention center's West Concourse. To reserve a seat on a shuttle bus, visit the Show Home Tours booth inside the main entrances to the West Concourse.

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