The Story of the Developer Who’s Trying to Build the World’s First Energy Self-Sufficient Rental Complex

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.


Energy-Efficient Decorating Ideas for the Holidays

The holiday season is almost here and within the next couple of weeks, you’ll be decorating your home. With all of the hustle and bustle of the season, you may not realize that a lot of your traditional décor can actually eat significant amounts of energy and can cost you quite a bit of money when that December electricity bill comes in. So, as a gift to you, we have looked into some ways to decorate your home that will save energy and put some cash back into your pocket.



LED Lighting


led-lighting-in-text-imagesWe’re sure you saw this coming, but we really do swear by LED lights. While they are a tad more costly than incandescent lighting, LEDs use 75 percent less electricity and last 10 times longer. Plus, LED light strands will save you some sanity because if one bulb goes out, you won’t be searching through the entire thing to find the culprit.



Do It Yourself


do-it-yourself-in-text-imagesDon’t worry, we know that not everyone’s an artist. But decorations created by you are not only cheap, they also won’t add to your electricity bill. Even if your hand-made wreath doesn’t have sparkly lights, it can still be a beautiful addition to your décor. Plus, most DIY projects come with fool-proof directions, so your project is bound to turn out great.



Candlelit Decorations


candlelit-decorations-in-text-imagesWhy not enjoy pretty lighting the old-fashioned way? Don’t be afraid to dig out the candles you’ve been hoarding in the drawer all year. Putting candles around your home can add a cozy feel that’s perfect for the holidays. Plus, a lot of Christmas decorations need candlelight to operate or project their images. Just be sure to blow them out before you leave the house!



Fiber Optics


fiber-optics-in-text-imagesFiber optic trees and decorations are the ultimate energy saver and they’re cheap. In most cases, they operate from a single bulb located at the base of an entire decoration. Plus, fiber optic trees tend to operate from LED lighting, which is a double whammy in energy savings.



Use Lots of Color


use-lots-of-color-in-text-imagesYou don’t need lights to implement holiday spirit. When decorating, try changing the curtains to holiday colors and replacing your table clothes with new, festive ones. If you’re cognizant of using lots of color throughout your home to promote the holidays, you’ll find that you won’t need as many lights or electricity-operated decorations to fill your home with holiday cheer.