New Gilbert community offers green homes on a large scale - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

New Gilbert community offers green homes on a large scale

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Posted: Thursday, June 24, 2010 3:08 pm | Updated: 4:44 pm, Mon Jun 28, 2010.

Inside the models at Meritage Homes' Lyon's Gate community in Gilbert, the theme is quickly noticeable.

Pillows emblazoned with "Think Green" adorn couches and beds, and books about nature sit on coffee tables.

In the bathrooms, the toilets have two buttons, which release different levels of water - a No. 1 button and No. 2 button, so to speak.

Such aesthetics are appropriate for Lyon's Gate, a new community that Meritage hopes will help usher in a trend of builders offering green homes on a large scale. The 210-unit community, located near Ray and Higley roads, has its grand opening on Saturday.

"We're establishing a standard of what we're going to do in homes, a test-pilot community of how far we can push, how much is achievable and affordable at the same time," said C.R. Herro, Meritage vice president of environmental affairs. "It's the result of nine months of partnering with everyone - Gilbert, Salt River Project and others.

"Everyone stepped in, tightened their belt and said that they believe in this as a vision."

While some builders offer green homes, Meritage believes it is the first to take energy efficiency this far. The Lyon's Gate homes - which range from 1,600 to 3,000 square feet with prices starting at $170,000 - have standard features designed to save up to 80 percent on utility bills.

Among the features:

• A solar-electric and thermal system that generates more than twice the energy of conventional panels.

• Spray-foam insulation that seals in air conditioning.

• A water level-sensing irrigation system.

• An electronic home-management system that can be monitored and controlled via a smart phone or computer.

"It doesn't matter if you are a tree hugger or not," Herro said. "The economics behind these houses ... owning a green house saves you thousands of dollars a year. The utility bills are a quarter of what they are in the same home built to the current codes, and you get a tax rebate from the government. It's money in your pocket."

Among the models is a "deconstructed home," a frame which gives visitors a look at features that are behind the walls.

Herro is putting his money where Meritage's vision is. The 1,768-square foot Saguaro model at Lyon's Gate will be his home someday.

"I'm buying this house," Herro said. "I would imagine that a house that consumes less than a quarter of the energy to maintain, has the same aesthetics and is at the same price, I can't imagine that's not going to transform the market."

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