Net-zero energy homes may be the hot new thing at the moment, but Josh Wynne Construction has already begun looking—and building—past that. The builder’s recent project, the Power Haus, in Sarasota, Fla., not only offers high-style design while producing all the energy needed to run the home, but also doubles as an energy production plant in its own right, producing extra power to feed back into the grid.
To create all that power, the home is outfitted with solar panels that provide electricity to the home and heat water for both indoor use and the pool. But more than just using clean energy sources, the design also harks back to the fundamental notion of efficiency by focusing on simply consuming less.
"We looked at everything that consumes power in the house and tried to reduce its load so that we could reduce the number of solar panels we needed to use as well," says Drew Smith, president of Two Trails, a green building consulting firm that collaborated with Josh Wynne on the project.
To that end, the home is outfitted exclusively with LED lights, a highly efficient air-conditioning system and pool pump, and super-insulated windows. Concrete block walls feature extruded polystyrene on the living side of the wall, as well as spray foam insulation injected into the cavities of the block.
As a result, the home’s HERS rating of -22 is the lowest ever recorded by Energy Star, and its LEED score came in at 118—far beyond the necessary 95 for a Platinum certification.
The home also uses passive ventilation, passive cooling, and passive lighting, which both take down energy use and help open the home up to panoramic views of the surrounding hardwood swamp.
Good looks notwithstanding, the site came with its own set of challenges thanks to its hot, humid climate. In response, the home sports finishes that can take the heat, such as polished concrete floors, clay walls over mold-resistant drywall, and native cypress timbers for doors, trim, cabinets, and roof framing.
Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.