When a family member or (very) close friend tells you she just found an affordable apartment, it’s hard not to at least wonder what she’s paying on a monthly basis. But even if she tells you, she’s likely to leave out an important detail. Her answer will be “X dollars” plus utilities.


“Plus utilities” is a devilish little detail. If you live in a place where energy costs are high, it can be the difference between a comfortable home and an uncomfortable home. (Let’s face it: who wants to spend the summer in Phoenix without air conditioning?)


One developer in Florida is trying to wipe that little detail—utilities—out of the equation entirely. Here’s the story of how one home builder is trying to build the world’s first energy self-sufficient rental complex, courtesy of our friends at Green Builder Magazine.



If you build an energy self-sufficient rental, will they come?


If You Build An Energy Self-sufficient Rental, Will They ComeIn 2010, developer Rick Lococo had a crazy idea. In the peak of a recession, he dreamt up the notion of the world’s first energy self-sufficient rental complex. He wanted it to be 100% energy efficient—anything that came into the house to cool it or power its appliances would stay there.


There was one major problem with his proposal: cost. Home prices were falling fast; how could he justify the luxury price tag of a home with pricey eco-friendly prices at a time when home prices were at rock bottom?


He decided to build the best version he could. And that if he did, like Field of Dreams, they would come.


Come they did. That first development, Seabourn Cove, would go on to win 2013’s multifamily project of the year from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Building Awards. One big idea can go a long way.



Eco-friendly amenities galore


Eco-Friendly Amenities GaloreSpeaking of going a long way, the list of energy-efficient amenities in Seabourn Cove is truly something. According to Green Builder:


“Green features included LED and compact fluorescent lighting; water-saving faucets, showers, and toilets; water piping with shorter runs to reduce heat loss; high-efficiency 16 SEER air-conditioning units; programmable thermostats; R-38 ceiling insulation; solar roof ventilation; ceiling fans; hurricane impact-resistant windows and doors; Energy Star-rated appliances; and even electric vehicle charging stations.”


Even with that amazing laundry list of appliances, however, Lococo and Co. have yet to unlock the secret to the completely energy-efficient rental complex. (Seabourn Cove did bring down energy costs significantly, however.) Here’s hoping they find it soon.