Florida Contractor Builds the First Luxury Net Zero Energy Home

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Marc Rutenberg, the CEO of the Florida company Marc Rutenberg Homes, has recently successfully designed and built a luxury home that complies with and even surpasses all Energy Star standards and is LEED Platinum certified. The Castaway III, as the house is called, measures 4,552-square feet, which is about 3,100 square feet larger than the average zero-energy home. This house proves that there is no need to sacrifice comfort and luxury to reduce one’s carbon footprint.

To achieve net zero-energy status the building envelope of the Castaway III was created using high-performance spray-foam insulation and employing extreme air sealing techniques. Thanks to the combination of these two things, the exterior of the house is incredibly tight and therefore makes the optimization of energy efficiency and long-term performance possible.

The house also received an extraordinary 15 HERS rating score, which is virtually unheard of for such a large luxury house. The Castaway III also boasts of features such as VRF air conditioning, Cradle-to-Cradle-certified Boral clay tile roofing and pavers, and a rainwater collection system on the roof.

Other energy efficient and sustainable features of the Castaway III include:

• Aurora LED lighting as the main lighting source throughout the house. Though LED lights are more expensive than other lighting sources, the LED bulb will last for 40,000 hours, which is almost 15 years. These bulbs also burn cooler and are cheaper to operate.

• An LG heating and air-conditioning system that includes one compressor and five indoor zones.

• 60 LG solar panels facing west and south west which together generate sufficient electrical power to achieve net-zero energy status.

• An AET solar water heater that also features electric backup for overcast days.

• The building foundation is made of a low-carbon footprint cement made by Blue World Crete

• The block walls are made of Hebel Aerated Autoclaved Concrete.

• The drywall is the Lafarge synthetic gypsum drywall, which is recycled and not mined.

• The windows are all PGT Energy Star windows

• The floors are made of bamboo by Teragren, since bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource

• The wood floors and other wood treatments are made from old river logs by Goodwin

• The tiling is made from recycled glass by Oceanside Glasstile

• The toilets, faucets and fixtures are high-efficiency products made by Kohler

• The showers are mildew-free, which is achieved thanks to Schluter shower systems

• The carpet in the portico is made of recycled plastic bottles by Mohawk Portico

• An irrigation system, which adjusts the water output according to environmental conditions (made by Hunter).

• The air is kept healthy by Panasonic vent systems.

• The countertops in the kitchen are made from recycled materials and concrete.

• The fireplace is fueled by ethanol.

• In the garage there is an Eaton Electric Vehicle Charger, while the Linear garage door openers are efficient and quiet.

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The Castaway III is the first house built as part of Rutenberg’s Zero Energy America Initiative, and is an example of the type of houses that will be build in the Zero Energy America Village. This community will be located on East Lake Road south of the Pinellas-Pasco border.

The construction of the Zero Energy America Village, is slated to begin this fall. It will be comprised of 20 luxury homes ranging in sizes from 1,600 to 2,300 square feet of net living area. The prices for these net-zero energy homes start at $250,000.


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