Nexus EnergyHomes Builds For The Future At Its North Pointe Community
As a start-up in 2008, Nexus EnergyHomes was born of company founder and CEO Paul Zanecki’s vision to build innovative, affordable homes that move America away from foreign fuel producers toward a green, fossil-free or low emission status. Along the way, Zanecki saw Nexus offering hard-working homeowners freedom from rising electric and fuel costs and projected electricity shortages.
How to achieve this lofty mission involved more than three years of intensive research and development to understand how to build a high performance home to the rigorous requirements of the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) at the highest certification levels, before Nexus ever put a shovel in the ground. The Nexus EnergyHomes building “recipe” that allowed the company to achieve NGBS Emerald certification on each home they’ve built in their award-winning GeoSolar Community, North Pointe located in Frederick, Maryland, incorporates a host of energy-efficient features. Chief among them, a high performance envelope with geothermal heating and cooling systems and photovoltaic solar panel arrays.
Each of the North Pointe homes, ranging from 2,000 to 2,710 square-feet, uses structural insulated panels (SIPs) for continuous insulation and durability. The high performance envelope design within Nexus homes begin with continuous insulation and enhanced air-sealing to minimize the HVAC system size. Designers also orient the homes to optimize solar exposure and incorporate extended overhangs and porches. The building envelope elements include wall insulation within the SIPs and spray foam installed on the roof deck to minimize seasonal excessive heat gain or loss and air sealing to reduce infiltration using spray foam and sealant.
The HVAC systems used at North Pointe are the ClimateMaster Tranquility® Seriesstate-of-the-art geothermal systems that incorporate sealed underground loop piping filled with circulating water and an ultra-high-efficiency heat pump to exchange heat between the home and the earth. A geothermal (ground-source) heat pump system saves energy and optimizes comfort. It also has significant federal incentives. With no exterior footprint, these geothermal ground-sourced heat pumps save useable outdoor space, reduce impervious surfaces and eliminate exterior (and often interior) noise as well as the generally unsightly appearance of exterior heat pump units (condensers).
Nexus also includes a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel array, sized specifically for each home. North Pointe homes’ electrical systems are tied to the electrical or utility grid for “net metering”. Power is produced by the PV panels during periods of sunshine and drawn from the grid at night or in periods of extensive cloud cover. The average HERS Index Score of a Nexus homes is 25, making them 75 percent more energy-efficient than the standard new home. Each home is net-zero achievable depending on the operation. For example, the top performing home at North Pointe currently is producing 109% of the consumption and will get a check from the utility at the end of the year.
North Pointe homeowners also use their NexusVision™ Smart Systems, a proprietary, web-based interface for tracking their home’s security, energy consumption, and PV production online from the iPad included with their home or any computer or smart phone. Homeowners can control their security system, adjust climate controls, switch lights on or off, and monitor their energy use as well as production. The energy dashboard provides historic and trend data in terms the homeowner can easily access and understand. Graphs showing energy usage in kilowatt hours (kWh) or dollars are presented by week, month and year, as well as the total cumulative environmental benefit of their net-zero community in terms of carbon and fossil fuel avoidance, or in equivalency terms, such as trees planted.
As Nexus continues to develop, company engineers continue to look for the best products to use in each home Nexus builds. In March 2013, Nexus announced it is partnering with The Dow Chemical Company as the first homebuilder in the Mid-Atlantic Region to offer the revolutionary Dow POWERHOUSE™ Solar Shingle using a copper indium gallium diselenide (CGIS) thin-film PV technology. The result is a solar shingle that installs like typical roofing materials and is a lightweight, durable residential solar application. Going forward, Nexus will offer the POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles to homebuyers in their upcoming Nexus GeoSolar Communities, including future homes at North Pointe.