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Virginia developer builds ‘zero’ energy home in six months

Posted on July 26, 2016
Virginia developer builds ‘zero’ energy home in six months

Gap between energy efficient housing and affordability narrows under new initiative.

Since 1991, builder and developer Jay Epstein has worked to narrow the gap between energy efficient housing and affordable housing.


Recently, Epstein, owner of Health-E Homes Community Enterprises, closed that gap even further by achieving “zero” on a new build.


Home buyers have entered a new era…”

Part of the Villas of Rocketts Landing in Richmond, VA — a completely solar powered community — the home is the first of twelve to be built under a program developed by TopBuild Home Services’, Inc., Environments For Living® program , in partnership with BASF. The program, named “BEYOND,” aims to increase the efficiency of new homes, all while keeping costs low.


“We’ve worked to build “zero” energy homes for many years,” explained Epstein. “The last home we built scored a 16 on the HERS Index — with the help of BASF and TopBuild Home Services, we were able to achieve ‘zero’ in six months.”



By the Numbers: Savings and Efficiency

  • Floor Plan/Model – The Stone
  • Sq. Ft. = 2170
  • HERS Index Score = 0
  • 100% Emission reduction vs. a home built using standard construction practices.
  • Cost to Operate = $166 annually (Dominion Power, customer service fees and taxes)
  • Average Monthly Cost =$13.83
  • Cumulative Utility Savings over First 20 years - $51,840*

* Based on EIA’s Energy Consumption Survey..



Based on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index, as well as other requirements under the BEYOND program, the home reached the “zero” goal with the help of BASF’s HP+™ Wall system, along with a number of other carefully selected performance systems.



For its part, the HP+ Wall reduces thermal bridging, improves air-tightness and increases R-values, improves moisture management, and reduces lumber use by up to 25 percent without sacrificing strength or structural integrity.


“Home buyers have entered a new era of thinking about what their home should be capable of and companies such as BASF hold the technology to make those expectations possible,” commented Epstein.


Ultimately however, the project is an example of how builders can leverage building science expertise and partner with like-minded companies to bring meaningful benefits for buyers — and set a new standard for builders.


The last home we built scored a 16 on the HERS Index — with the help of BASF and TopBuild Home Services, we were able to achieve ‘zero’ in six months.” Jay Epstein, Health-E Homes Community Enterprises

“Taking on the exciting challenge of building homes at the BEYOND level, with support from BASF and the Environments For Living program, has further reinforced our commitment to building affordable homes that will perform optimally, provide comfort, and offer ways for the homebuyer to receive savings in the long term.” The homes also come with a ten-year limited heating and cooling energy use and comfort guarantee, pushing savings even further.


Environments For Living will test and perform reviews, monitoring the homes’ construction and certify each home’s Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and BEYOND level achievements.



Read our HP+ Wall System Spotlight for more information on this wall assembly system.


On Point Performance: HP+ Wall System put to the test

BASF, in conjunction with Building Science Consulting, Inc. performed testing specifically designed to investigate multiple factors that contribute to thermal performance, including thermal bridging, temperature effects, and airflow interactions.

Key Findings from Thermal Metric Test Data

  • It reduces the risk of condensation- the air leakage condensation risk at the interior face of the spray foam is minimized because it is kept warm due to its placement in the system. Research has shown systems like HP+TM Wall System have 95% less risk of condensation compared to typical walls.
  • It provides an airtight enclosure component, one of the keys to creating an efficient and durable enclosure system.
  • The whole wall thermally outperforms walls with full cavity insulations, even in 2 x 6 construction. Its effective R-value is closest to its labeled R-value of any of the tested assemblies.


BASF now offers builders Wall Systems that achieve stated R-values and contribute to more energy efficient, high performance homes. The construction is relatively simple and BASF provides added reliability and confidence in the quality of the spray foam installation through their Contractor Certification Process. The inherent durability of the system reduces maintenance requirements, increases the lifespan of the structure, and increases its tolerance to the possible operating conditions within the home.


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