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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Go green, save green

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Ixonia - Zero is the latest buzzword for green building - as in houses that generate as much power as they use. Although going green often is seen as more expensive than conventional construction, some homebuilders are trying to change that. Instead of granite countertops and fancy playrooms, the homes have solar panels and heat pumps.

Tom and Verona Chambers of Black River Falls recently moved into a new home that includes solar panels on the roof, a ground source heat pump and a gizmo that reuses shower water to preheat water coming in from the city.

"We don't have a gas line into the house - zero cost for gas. We have an electric line, but the goal is to produce as much as we use so we don't have any electric bill," Tom Chambers said.

There's a higher upfront cost to having a completely green home. But federal tax credits and grants from the energy conservation group Focus on Energy and a local utility, WPPI Energy, helped bring down that extra cost.

"The other side of the coin is the ongoing utility costs that we will not have," Chambers said.

Closer to Milwaukee, developer Mark Neumann wants to take zero-energy construction a step further.

After touring a green home last summer, Neumann and his son began designing a house that would go beyond zero-energy.

The result: a home now under construction in Ixonia that will produce all the energy that would be consumed in the house - as well as the electricity that a plug-in hybrid vehicle would need for a daily commute.

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