Page B1.1 . 09 May 2001                     
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    Power Houses

    by ArchitectureWeek

    While millions of Californians are complaining about the high cost and low reliability of electricity, a few companies are actually doing something about it. One of these is Shea Homes San Diego, a leading southern California homebuilder, which has recently announced a proactive approach to easing the energy crisis.

    Now under construction, 100 houses in a new development will actually generate some of their own power. These houses feature solar collectors as standard equipment. One set of panels will heat domestic hot water; a second, a photovoltaic array, will generate electricity to power other appliances. In this hot and sunny climate, the latter system will enable homeowners to occasionally sell excess power back to their local utility company.

    Such technologies are finally becoming affordable for residential customers. The cost of solar systems is coming down, while the cost of conventional power sources is skyrocketing. San Diego homeowners are paying 10 times more for electricity and more than twice as much for natural gas than they did in May 2000.

    In addition to the solar devices, the new houses will feature energy efficiency measures that far exceed those of the building code. Homeowners can expect to reduce their utility bills by up to 30 percent over what they would pay with conventional houses.

    Benefits to the Environment

    But cost is only part of the equation. Customers are also buying greater thermal comfort and the satisfaction that they are contributing to part of a solution to pollution and global warming.



    ArchWeek Photo

    Although the new houses in the Scripps Highlands community will look like their predecessors, they will come equipped with solar panels for hot water heating and electricity generation.
    Image: Shea Homes

    ArchWeek Photo

    Some of the features of a Shea Homes high-performance house. The three details illustrate solar electric panels, solar hot water panels, and tightly sealed ducts.
    Image: Shea Homes


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