Eliminate Your Family’s Carbon Footprint in a Zero Energy Home

Imagine living in a house that uses zero energy and a neighborhood that has no carbon footprint. It’s now going to be possible in a new development being located in the small fishing village of Cortes, Florida, just south of Tampa on the state’s west coast. Hunters Point Pearl Homes and Marina is a development of 86 homes, 62 lodges, and 47 boat slips that form a solar-powered network. They will all share excess renewable energy and contribute any excess to the larger grid, which is essentially “establishing a virtual power plant of clean electricity.”

The home includes plenty of covered outdoor living space.View in gallery
The home includes plenty of covered outdoor living space.

Residential development company Pearl Homes teamed up with Sonnen, a leading intelligent solar storage technology company to create the community. The ultimate aim is to help “decarbonize southwest Florida and surrounding regions by making green living a standard in new homes,” say the creators. This is also the first time an energy storage system will work in concert with Google Home in a master-planned development to maximize the intelligent use of each household’s renewable energy, they explain.

“The beauty of Hunters Point is that it gives the power to the home-buyer, both literally and figuratively,” said Marshall Gobuty, president and founder of Sarasota-based Pearl Homes. “We have an opportunity and responsibility to improve our impact on the environment, and this is our chance. Hunters Point is about luxury living and sustainability, but also about the larger picture – creating a world that is better for our kids and grandchildren.”

While construction will start in 2019, the model home is available as a sample of what the homes will look like.

Multipurpose living space accommodates today's more fluid lifestyles.View in gallery
Multipurpose living space accommodates today’s more fluid lifestyles.

Every home in the development comes professionally designed and fully furnished. They include a two-car garage that doubles as a 1,200-square-foot Florida basement. The house features a “Sky Deck” on the roof, which is 600 square feet of open-air entertainment space. The interior has 600 square feet of living space. The kitchen features top-of-the-line energy efficient GE appliances and the developer’s design team hand picks each piece of furniture and to all the details.

With regard to energy technology, the house has rooftop solar panels, a smart Nest thermostat, and an electric vehicle (EV) charger. All of these elements are all controlled by sonnen’s artificial intelligence energy management software to ensure the cleanest energy is used to power the home.

Compact, technologically advanced appliances make it easy to integrate the kitchen into the main living space.View in gallery
Compact, technologically advanced appliances make it easy to integrate the kitchen into the main living space.

The compact living space has an open plan, which is most popular in today’s housing market. The space is flexible and can be used for relaxing or dining, with the addition of a convertible piece of furniture that would take up a small amount of floor space when not in use. It also makes the kitchen area part of the living space, increasing the opportunity for family members to interact during meal prep time. Sometimes, a compact space can seem dark and closed in, but well thought out lighting instead creates an airy, open feeling.

The open plan serves today;s homeowners who want to interact with family members in the kitchen.View in gallery
The open plan serves today;s homeowners who want to interact with family members in the kitchen.

Pearl Homes created the nation’s first residential development to achieve LEED certification on a production scale with its Mirabella community in Bradenton, Florida. The lifestyle community has 158 LEED Platinum certified single-family homes whose cost is within  5 percent of a conventional new home.

The modern design foregoes handles and hardware, making it sleek yet homey.View in gallery
The modern design foregoes handles and hardware, making it sleek yet homey.
One main hallway links the bedrooms to the living space.View in gallery
One main hallway links the bedrooms to the living space.

“Pearl Homes’ vision of increasing access to sustainable homes is directly aligned with the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) vision to achieve green buildings for all within a generation,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC. “Pearl Homes uses a streamlined process to achieve the highest levels of sustainability and occupant health. With the addition of sonnen’s intelligent clean energy management technology, the development of this community brings the potential for energy-positive living to the mainstream. Pearl Homes and sonnen understand the value of LEED and have exemplified extraordinary leadership in reshaping their sector.”

A light color palette with a pop of bright color makes it feel roomy.View in gallery
A light color palette with a pop of bright color makes it feel roomy.

The master bedroom, like the second bedroom, makes the most of wall space by mounting the flatscreen television and incorporating a modest-sized desk for household tasks or reading. Throughout the home, detailed planning and impeccable organization make the spaces more functional than the average US home. The space is compact yet comfortable and has room for all the essentials. This type of development allows homeowners to lighten their mark on the environment without making all the lifestyle sacrifices that might be needed to move into a tiny home.

Built-in shelving above the bed makes the most of a space that's usually wasted.View in gallery
Built-in shelving above the bed makes the most of a space that’s usually wasted.

The second bedroom also has plenty of storage space, a wall-mounted flat screen television/monitor and a convertible desk feature. This kind of a space is ideal for adults and children alike, with a versatile design and makes the home work for families of various types and sizes.

Space-saving pocket doors and a convertible desk increase the bedroom's function.View in gallery
Space-saving pocket doors and a convertible desk increase the bedroom’s function.
The rooftop deck is spacious and can be frequently enjoyed in the warm climate.View in gallery
The rooftop deck is spacious and can be frequently enjoyed in the warm climate.

Even though Hunters Point has yet to be finished, plans are already in the works for a second development in Ellenton, 30  minutes south of Tampa. It will be a rental community featuring single and multi-family homes. Multi-family homes will start at $900 per month, and single-family will range from $1,200-$1,400 per month. It will be the first net-zero rental community of its size, with pricing designed to provide people of varying income levels the opportunity to make a difference for the environment by living in a sustainable residence.

“We are thrilled to partner with Pearl Homes as we upend the traditional homebuilding vision, and replace it with one based on decarbonizing the grid and establishing a complete solution for affordable green living,” said Blake Richetta, senior vice president and head of sonnen’s U.S. operations. sonnen has garnered a variety of awards for its innovations, including the 2018 Fast Company Most Innovative Companies in Energy, 2017 Zayed Future Energy Prize,  and MIT’s Technology Review’s 50 Smartest Companies in 2016.