First net-zero home in San Antonio opens to public

BuiltSmart Resources invited the whole town out to celebrate the grand opening of its new solar-powered net-zero home in San Antonio, Texas, last week.

The 3,900-square-foot home is the first net-zero house in San Antonio and may be the most efficient home in the state, said BuiltSmart President Mike Scott.

The home, built on more than two acres at the edge of northern Bexar County, features a state-of-the-art 11.28-kilowatt solar photovoltaic installation, which offsets 110 percent of its energy consumption based on a five-person occupancy, Scott said. That means the home will regularly be pumping power back into the grid.

While the solar is a key ingredient in achieving zero energy consumption, it’s not the only one, Scott said.

His company helps people achieve reduced energy need in a variety of ways, ranging from solar panel installation to rainwater collection, spray-foam insulation, and super-energy-efficient building or retrofitting techniques.

“This home is actually using about half the energy of a standard home,” Scott said.

A regular house of the same size would require a larger solar array to completely offset the energy use there.

BuiltSmart constructed this home as a model to show the public how they can achieve zero energy use.

The home would go on the market for about $1.3 million if the company were interested in trying to sell it now, Scott said. But if the house were on a more average-sized lot, it would only cost about $550,000.

“That’s the really cool thing about this construction,” Scott said. “It’s really comparable price wise. It’s maybe 10 percent more, but a lot of my clients say they don’t event think it’s that much.”

Scott said much of the expense of the efficiency and energy generation additions can be offset by federal and local tax rebates and incentives along with special credits from the local utility company, CPS.

San Antonio is a smart place to install solar panels, Scott said. The area gets an average of 5.41 hours of sunshine a day, according to a meteorological database, Scott said.

While this is certainly the first home of its kind in the area and may be the first in the state, Scott said he’s confident it won’t be the last.

Image courtesy of ATS-Engineers.