Build Native http://buildnative.com Leading Green Home Building and Residential/Commercial Solar Power Experts Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:24:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Saddletree http://buildnative.com/portfolio/saddletree-2/ http://buildnative.com/portfolio/saddletree-2/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:22:42 +0000 http://buildnative.com/?post_type=portfolio&p=12096 Saddletree – Dripping Springs, Texas Click for Gallery The Saddletree Project is Hill Country net zero energy home. This project incorporates passive solar design, clerestory windows, day lighting, advanced framing techniques with spray foam envelope, geothermal heat pump with hot water recove...

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Saddletree – Dripping Springs, Texas

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The Saddletree Project is Hill Country net zero energy home. This project incorporates passive solar design, clerestory windows, day lighting, advanced framing techniques with spray foam envelope, geothermal heat pump with hot water recovery, energy efficient air source water heater, potable rainwater collection system, High efficiency lighting CFL and LED, stained concrete, native landscaping, high performance windows, large overhangs, native stone, and energy star appliances.

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Project Features

GeoThermal
Locally harvested stone
Solar panels
Advanced framing
Natural day lighting
Stained concrete
Solid wood kitchen cabinetry
Humidistat
Large overhangs
Native landscaping
Metal roof
Zip walls system
Spray foam insulation
Water-based paints
Energy star appliances
Vent fans in every room
Rainwater collection system

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Energy Monitoring http://buildnative.com/energy-monitoring/ http://buildnative.com/energy-monitoring/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 16:00:56 +0000 http://buildnative.com/?p=11949 “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it” - Lord Kelvin We are in the midst of a mindshift of the energy consumer. Consumers are becoming keenly aware of not only the direct cost of the energy that they use, but also of the external health and environmental effects as well. For a multitude...

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energy monitoring
energy monitoring

“If you can not measure it, you can not improve it”
- Lord Kelvin

We are in the midst of a mindshift of the energy consumer. Consumers are becoming keenly aware of not only the direct cost of the energy that they use, but also of the external health and environmental effects as well. For a multitude of reasons, they are looking to reduce the amount of energy that is being supplied by the grid.

But our homes are complex energy distribution centers. We connect dozens to hundreds of lights, appliances, and plugs into our homes, and most of us have no idea of what energy is being used where.

For many, installing a solar system is a sure fire way to reduce utility energy consumption. But even after a solar system is installed, a client may have several questions:

  • Is my solar array producing the power that I was told?
  • Is my energy usage appropriate for my home?
  • What other opportunities are there to reduce my energy consumption?
  • How should these other opportunities be prioritized?

There is one answer to all of these questions: energy monitoring.

Awareness is the first step towards change and it is gained through measurement. The energy monitor is the enabling tool in this process. It consists of a small device that connects to the electrical panel in your home that can be configured to measure a variety of different energy flows throughout your house in real time. Energy monitors also collect energy usage over time. This allows you to understand energy usage patterns and identify opportunities to make positive steps to change.

Energy monitors can provide energy consumption down to the appliance level. Think of it as your home’s fingerprint, by analyzing this print, we are able to find patterns and usage and identify areas where energy can be saved. We have been able to identify a failing HVAC system, point out an inefficient pool pump, and even find an overactive water heater.

Below is an example of one day’s energy usage in one of our client’s homes. The area in red represents energy that the home is using from the grid. The area in white represents energy that the home is using from the solar system on the roof. The area in green represents excess solar energy that is being fed back into grid.

energy monitoring

In addition to this macro level view, there are also individual circuits being monitored, that allows the homeowner to identify specific appliances in the home. Having this data provides a slate of options for the customer when looking for other ways to reduce energy consumption.

When you measure, you will improve it…and you can quote us on that.

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FM 1704 http://buildnative.com/portfolio/fm-1704/ http://buildnative.com/portfolio/fm-1704/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 18:20:51 +0000 http://buildnative.com/?post_type=portfolio&p=11926 FM 1704 – Elgin, Texas Click Image for Gallery The FM 1704 Project is a beautiful Elgin high-performance home that was NATiVE built and features a unique design and an abundance of energy-saving solutions. Project Features...

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FM 1704 – Elgin, Texas

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The FM 1704 Project is a beautiful Elgin high-performance home that was NATiVE built and features a unique design and an abundance of energy-saving solutions.

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Project Features

29,000 gallon Rainwater collection tank
5.00kW Solar array
Spray foam insulation
Advanced framing
Natural day lighting

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San Jose Way http://buildnative.com/portfolio/san-jose-way/ http://buildnative.com/portfolio/san-jose-way/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 18:03:53 +0000 http://buildnative.com/?post_type=portfolio&p=11909 San Jose Way – Canyon Lake, Texas Click Image for Gallery The San Jose Way Project is a beautiful Canyon Lake high performance passive solar home that was NATiVE built and features an abundance of energy-saving solutions. Project Features...

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San Jose Way – Canyon Lake, Texas

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The San Jose Way Project is a beautiful Canyon Lake high performance passive solar home that was NATiVE built and features an abundance of energy-saving solutions.

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Project Features

Rainwater collection tank
5.00kW Solar array
Spray foam insulation
Standing seam galvalume roof
Advanced framing
Natural day lighting

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Canyon View http://buildnative.com/portfolio/canyon-view/ http://buildnative.com/portfolio/canyon-view/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:20:07 +0000 http://buildnative.com/?post_type=portfolio&p=11875 Canyon View - Dripping Springs, Texas Click Image for Gallery The Canyon View Project is a beautiful hill country high performance passive solar home that was NATiVE built in Dripping Springs, Texas. Project Features...

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Canyon View - Dripping Springs, Texas

Click Image for Gallery

The Canyon View Project is a beautiful hill country high performance passive solar home that was NATiVE built in Dripping Springs, Texas.

get started on your residential construction project

Project Features

Rainwater collection tank
3.00kW Solar array
Geo Thermal
Spray foam insulation
Standing seam galvalume roof
Advanced framing
Natural day lighting

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American Dream 2.0 http://buildnative.com/american-dream-2-0/ http://buildnative.com/american-dream-2-0/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 15:23:29 +0000 http://buildnative.com/?p=11665 If You’ve Ever Considered Solar, You Must Read This Declare Your Independence and Take Ownership of Your Energy The origins of the American Dream date back to the frontier days when early settlers, unbounded by the hierarchical limitations they left behind in Europe, saw the opportunity throug...

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american dream

If You’ve Ever Considered Solar, You Must Read This

Declare Your Independence and Take Ownership of Your Energy

The origins of the American Dream date back to the frontier days when early settlers, unbounded by the hierarchical limitations they left behind in Europe, saw the opportunity through hard work to build a better life for their families. In these early beginnings, and even today, this Dream includes home ownership. The purchase of a home is considered a memorable and significant step in our lives and one that pays homage to history as a time of “settling” down.

Despite our ambition to achieve this Dream of home ownership, most of us are content with the concept of renting the energy it takes to occupy our dream homes. We pay our energy landlords on a monthly basis and don’t think much about it – other than we wish other people in the home could learn to turn off the lights!

Even though as a country, we still power our homes with the same coal fire/steam technology used since the days of the first railroads, we have the ability to power them from our own rooftops. We now have the potential to take the American Dream a step further and own our energy for the same price we’re paying our energy landlords. This is possible due to a concept that enabled most of us the ability to recognize the homeownership dream in the first place: financing.

Native is constantly being contacted by institutions promoting their financing options to gain our customers’ business. Many of these are conventional banks that want to add solar loans as a product they offer, but with terms more similar to an auto loan. Over the years we have found only a few institutions that we felt offered a financing product that met our customers’ needs. However, as the solar industry has matured, more and more financing institutions are starting to offer products. Native’s current offerings reflect the results of a rigorous vetting process so that we can offer specifically designed loans that align with the cost, output, and lifetime of a PV system.

In some areas of Texas, historically the only low/no money down option was a lease product offered by a few large, national solar companies and in very select areas that allow them. While leasing often requires little or no money down, payments are subject to annual escalators, and after 20 years of payment , the lessee has no equity in the system. Also, the sale of homes with leased systems can be problematic if the new owner does not want, or can’t qualify for the existing lease. This could lead to a default, with high penalties owed to reimburse the leasing company.

This fall, new solar finance options have emerged that not only align the financing with the life of the system, but can be cash positive from day one, with little or no money down. This means that the payment is LESS than what the solar system will save off of your electric bill! Not only is your monthly energy bill reduced the same month your system installed, it will never go up as your neighbors’ grid power rates are increased.

This is possible through a 20 year solar loan, with low interest rates starting at 6.49%. The loan is secured by the solar panels on your roof and the loan includes a 15 year solar performance guarantee. If your system goes down or is under performing, it gets serviced for free. To put this another way, because of the long duration (equating to a low monthly payment) and performance guarantee, this loan product has the feel and security of a lease. The difference is you own it!

In addition to the aforementioned solar specific loan, conventional real estate loan options are available for those who are buying/building a new home, remodeling an existing home, or refinancing an existing mortgage. Conventional finance vehicles can include solar as part of the loan with terms consistent with market mortgage rates. The result is the same: loan payments that are less than what would be paid to the utility.

For commercial customers, there are leases and loans that can be cash positive in under 3 years in any Texas market. Commercial customers with access to rebates or production-based incentives [from Austin Energy, CPS Energy in San Antonio, AEP, Oncor, Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative, Sharyland Utilities, or City of San Marcos] can realize immediate positive cash flow when these funds are combined with the 30% federal tax credit and the MACRS accelerated depreciation tax structure.

There are several variables and non-solar related circumstances relevant to every building and homeowner’s specific situation. As a builder who works with its customers to find the best home financing solutions and as a solar integrator that works with its customers to find the best solar financing solutions, Native is uniquely positioned to help navigate these complicated waters. Contact us to learn how to start taking ownership of your energy and live the new American Dream.

financing options

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New Year’s Resolutions http://buildnative.com/new-years-resolutions/ http://buildnative.com/new-years-resolutions/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 23:08:05 +0000 http://buildnative.com/?p=11646 2015 New Year’s Resolutions - Think Way Past 2015 As the new year approaches, nearly half of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. Most of these resolutions have to do with making personal life improvements, like losing weight, eating healthier, being more positive, etc. 2015 is the yea...

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New Year's Resolutions

2015 New Year’s Resolutions - Think Way Past 2015

As the new year approaches, nearly half of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. Most of these resolutions have to do with making personal life improvements, like losing weight, eating healthier, being more positive, etc. 2015 is the year to live efficiently; to be sustainable; to save money; to declare your independence and own your energy & water.

The following resolutions will benefit you far beyond 2015.

Never buy bottled water again – Use a NATiVE water bottle instead!
Trade your bottled water habit for an at-home filtering pitcher and you can help make a dent in the 1.5 million barrels of oil used to make plastic water bottles each year; pair it with a reusable NATiVE water bottle and you’ll always be prepared to tackle your thirst. A customized NATiVE Kleen Kanteen is a thank you gift for each solar PV installation and home we build.

Remember your reusable bags
With more than 1 million plastic bags ending up in the trash every minute, taking reusable bags to the store is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint — but the hardest part about using them is simply remembering to take them with you!

Recycle everything
In Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas, recycling is made easy. The average family should be able to fill their recycle bin up faster than their trash bin, if you’re mindful of what is recyclable when shopping, and actually recycle it after use.

Drive less and use a bike for short trips
It takes a certain amount of dedication to permanently give up a car in favor of a bike, but anyone can make it work for short trips that don’t require hauling a lot of stuff: picking up milk at the local grocery store, after-dinner ice cream at your favorite dessert spot, your morning yoga class, brunch with friends at the coffee shop. Ride your bike for trips shorter than 2 miles and you could cut your carbon footprint significantly, save money on gasoline and car maintenance, and increase your fitness level — all at the same time.

Eliminate phantom power
It takes approximately one second to unplug the charger for your cell phone, mp3 player, e-reader, or iPad — but if you really can’t be bothered, then let nifty, energy-efficient gadgets do the work for you. Use power strips to turn off all your appliances at once; put your television, DVD player, game system, and stereo on a timer so they automatically shut off overnight; and invest in chargers that stop drawing current when the device’s battery is full. You could cut your energy bill by as much as 10 percent annually — without lifting a finger.

Conserve water
Americans are some of the biggest consumers of water worldwide, according to the EPA. We use 100 gallons on average per day, while Europeans of equal lifestyle use only about 50. Since we are living at a time when half the world’s population will face water scarcity issues within two decades, reducing your water use makes sense. Besides conserving water, you can also add a rainwater collection system to your home and enjoy the best of what mother nature has to offer.

Switch to green power
Switching your home to run on green power sounds like a big job, but having solar panels installed is easy and affordable. NATiVE has great financing options and one of the best warranties in the business! Own your energy and never pay an electric bill again beginning in 2015!

Replace your lightbulbs
Replacing your lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lights may be the easiest change to make in 2015. Despite all the jokes, it takes only one person to change a lightbulb — and since CFLs last longer than traditional bulbs, you’ll be saving time for years down the road while cutting your energy use by as much as 80 percent.

Know your energy usage
Energy monitoring is an easy way to be green in 2015. Systems like E-guage monitor usage on different circuits in your home. NATiVE installs these systems in conjunction with a solar PV system so you can not only monitor your energy production but you can monitor your energy usage. No longer will you leave the lights on in the other room!

Do deep energy retrofits to your existing home
Whether you need better or more insulation, energy efficient windows, roof, or HVAC system, a NATiVE retrofit on your existing home or business will save you money, increase the value of your home, and increase the comfort and health of you and your family.

Take the leap – build a net zero home!
Go green or go home! 2015 is the year to build your energy efficient, high performance NATiVE home.

new year's resolution

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Happy Holidays http://buildnative.com/happy-holidays/ http://buildnative.com/happy-holidays/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 16:05:50 +0000 http://buildnative.com/?p=11606 Happy Holidays from NATiVE As NATiVE looks back on the years of projects, we are thankful for all the wonderful customers that have made it all possible. From our family to yours…Happy Holidays!...

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happy holidays

Happy Holidays from NATiVE

As NATiVE looks back on the years of projects, we are thankful for all the wonderful customers that have made it all possible. From our family to yours…Happy Holidays!

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Cold Weather Energy Efficiency http://buildnative.com/cold-weather-energy-efficiency/ http://buildnative.com/cold-weather-energy-efficiency/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 19:58:32 +0000 http://buildnative.com/?p=11592 Button Up Your Home for Winter Savings…’Cause Baby, It’s Cold Outside Cold Weather Energy Efficiency Winter is an interesting season in Texas, some days it can be a beautiful 73 degrees and others can be a chilly 42 degrees with rain! With the temperate winter climate cold weather ...

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Button Up Your Home for Winter Savings…’Cause Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Cold Weather Energy Efficiency

Cold Weather Energy Efficiency

Winter is an interesting season in Texas, some days it can be a beautiful 73 degrees and others can be a chilly 42 degrees with rain! With the temperate winter climate cold weather energy efficiency isn’t always at the forefront of our minds. Similar to your winter wardrobe, your home keeps the elements out from temperature extremes, rain, snow, sun and even those overly noisy neighbors of yours. Why then do we choose to fight the cold with expensive heating bills when we can gear our homes up for winter and save?

Here’s how you can improve the energy efficiency of your home this holiday season.

Cold Weather Energy Efficiency Spray foam insulation is a great option for keeping the temperature of your home comfortable. Available in open- and closed-cell options, spray foam is pumped into the walls, expanding into every crack and crevice at an incredible rate and volume, leaving the cold outside where it belongs. For this reason, spray foam is a more efficient means of insulating your home than traditional fiberglass insulation as it effectively stops air and moisture infiltration. That means your home can retain more heat on top of being more resistant to mold, but that’s not all you can do.

Every opening in your home from windows to doors can be an open invitation for the cold to come storming in. This can include lesser obvious penetrations in your home like dryer vents, outdoor water faucets and outlets. In some instances, it can be that small space between the front door and the floor. No different than an open window; these gaps can be just as costly. We often tell our customers that if you can fit a $100 bill through the gap in your front door, you might as well do it because that is what you will end up spending in excess heating bills this year. Instead place a piece of weather stripping at the bottom of any exterior door to keep that colder air from seeping into the house.

To further beef up the warmth of your home, install double pane windows and/or a heavier drapery during the winter months. Unlike summer though, you will want to open the drapes/blinds during daylight hours to warm up the house and close them at night to better insulate those windows. Similarly, you will want to set your ceiling fan in reverse so that it instead of pulling the hot air up, it will now pull the hot air down and keep it closer to you, where you want it.

Besides the deep energy retrofits (spray foam insulation, efficient windows and doors) to improve your home’s efficiency, adapting your lifestyle for the sake of saving may also be necessary. For example, setting your thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night can help out with that costly heating bill. If you have a fireplace, keep the damper shut when not in use. Traditional fireplaces are an energy loser – it’s best not to use them because they pull heated air out of the house and up the chimney. When not in use, make absolutely sure the damper is closed. Before closing the damper, make sure that you don’t have any smoldering embers. If you decide not to use a fireplace, then block off the chimney with a piece of rigid insulation from the hardware store that fits snugly into the space (dampers don’t shut fully without some leaking).

And lastly, not everything needs to be something you can do for your house; part of being energy-efficient in winter is how you, yourself, approach the cold in your home. If you are one to hike up the thermostat to tropic conditions in shorts and a tank top, you may want to reevaluate your attire. Try choosing clothes that suit the season regardless of whether you are indoors or outdoors – items that are not solely based on looks but by their construction and material. A tightly woven wool or wool-blend shirt can go a long way in holding in your body heat, much further than your favorite cotton shirt from college. So if you want to save this winter and be more energy efficient, dress the part and make sure your home is doing the same.

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Building a Net Zero House…Part Two http://buildnative.com/building-net-zero-house/ http://buildnative.com/building-net-zero-house/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 19:21:41 +0000 http://buildnative.com/?p=11128 “It is amazing to see the lot without the house, quite weird, really. Are we brave or crazy? People are asking. We say brave.” – Liz We say brave too. Not everyone would decide to build a net zero house, sign off on the plans, and then leave to London for 10 months while construction takes pla...

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Net Zero House

“It is amazing to see the lot without the house, quite weird, really. Are we brave or crazy? People are asking. We say brave.” – Liz

We say brave too. Not everyone would decide to build a net zero house, sign off on the plans, and then leave to London for 10 months while construction takes place on the property you’ve spent 30 years building a life on. There may be a sadness to tearing down a home with so many memories within the walls, a house you have lived in for three decades, but only for a moment, because the foundation is being laid and framing has started, and now is when the magic starts to take place. All of the planning, designing, and dreaming comes to life. And while Liz and Alan are on the other side of the globe from their home in Austin, Texas, those stud walls bear the promise of future memories to come.

net zero houseNative allows customers to choose their wall materials just like all other choices when building a home. A popular and affordable choice is advanced framing with 2X6 studs. Liz and Alan’s home is framed in such a manner. This method not only uses less lumber but creates less heat/cold transfer from the outside through the studs. Their foundation is a poured concrete slab, which creates a great deal of thermal mass. This thermal mass keeps the ambient temperature of the home warm in the cooler months and cooler in the hot Texas summers.

And with this, their new home begins to take shape….

net zero house

For Part One of this story, click here: Going Net Zero

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