The green building expert John Wesley Miller, working with the company Green Builder Media recently completed the latest innovative project in the Vision House Series, namely the Vision House Tucson. This home is located in the Armory Park del Sol neighborhood of Tucson, AZ. The house is fitted will all the latest fixtures and features of a net zero home, yet the basis of its energy efficiency lies in its traditional block and cement construction.
Miller, who has been working in the green building and solar heating field for over 40 years, has designed the walls of the home to act as a thermal-mass storage. This home is also the most energy efficient home he has ever built, while Miller is certain that the secret to an energy efficient home lies in creating the proper building envelope. All the voids in the block are filled, which creates the necessary mass to hold in the cool air during the summer months, and the warmth in the winter. The exterior of the home is wrapped in insulation, which is then coated with three layers of stucco.
Miller’s Vision House, located at 413 S. Third Ave. in Tucson, is powered by an array of photovoltaic panels, which will generate 7.2 kilowatts of electricity at peak. In addition to that, the house is also fitted with two rooftop solar water heaters that feed a 150-gallon tank, which preheats outside air in winter and provides hot water. The heating and cooling system was made by Russett Southwest Corp., and the company will continue to monitor its performance.
The home was also fitted with Energy-Star rated appliances, while most of the house was constructed using recycled and sustainable materials. Among others, these include recycled-glass countertops, an electric-vehicle recharging station in the garage, a 520-gallon rainwater catchment, along with lifetime cement shingles and remotely controlled appliances. The home is also designed to use less than half the water of a standard Tucson home.
The Armory Park del Sol neighborhood was planned to become a 99-home neighborhood of solar-powered homes. It opened in 2001, and with three owners having purchased double lots, this latest house represents the 95th home built, so only one lot remains. The price of this latest Vision house is $888,000 for 2,500 square feet of living area and a double garage. While this may seem steep, the yearly utility costs for this home are expected to be no higher that $300. The PV array will also be able to generate more power than the household needs.