The Big Green Reveal

The ABC Green Home, located at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif., held its grand opening last month and is officially open to the public.

By Carina Calhoun

In just 70 days, with the goal to be Affordable, Buildable and Certified (ABC), the ABC Green Home came to life. At the official grand opening ceremony last month at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif., more than 300 building industry professionals attended. Along with, the Honorable Mayor of Irvine and the Chief of Police of the City of Irvine, several City Council members, and Senior Executives from Southern California Edison (SCE) and the Board of Governors of the Great Park. The Net-Zero Energy home is now open to the public as a learning center for smart practices in sustainable and affordable green home building.

“The Great Park is the perfect place to host the ABC Green Home because it illustrates two of the Great Park’s most important guiding principles — environmental stewardship and education,” said Beth Krom, chair of the Orange County Great Park Corporation. The success of the project was proven in the recognition from the project and product partners, industry professionals and the media. The grand opening event was broadcasted on ABC, CBS and SoCal PBS evening news networks and has been reported in The Orange County Register, The Chicago Tribune, The Daily Pilot, OC Metro, Yahoo and MSNBC.

The Craftsman-style, single-story, threebedroom, two-bathroom home will receive six green certificates by four different agencies, including the NAHB National Green Building Standard and California Advanced Homes. It is also the first of its kind to be built by SCE. John Morton, program manager, California Advanced Homes for SCE, who has undertaken the partnership for the project, stated, “I am really excited about the completed project. Each specification within the home was chosen for a precise reason and the end result is very telling.”

Designed by noted Architect Manny Gonzalez of the KTGY Group, Inc., this is truly a home of the future. Since California is seeking to make Net-Zero energy use mandatory by 2020, this model home and its sustainability template will show how to achieve Net-Zero now. There are few, if any, affordable, entry-level, certified green homes being built by production home builders for sale in America — so the home is expected to serve as a template for future housing.

It showcases cutting edge technology and universal design principles that have been combined into one efficient design. “Now that it is complete, everyone can see that a home can be energy-efficient and user-friendly for all life-stages,” said Gonzalez. He continued, “It’s not often that an architect gets to design a home that could change the home building industry like the ABC Green Home, and I look on it as a great success.”

Included in the home’s features are insulated walls that use less lumber, energy-efficient heat pumps to heat water and the air and provide air conditioning, five-and-a-half kilowatt solar roof panels, a rainwater collection system, a gray water recycling system and drought tolerant plants. The kitchen faucet turns on and off at the touch by Delta Faucets and shuts down after four minutes. There are wider doors and lower kitchen counters to make it easier for a disabled or wounded veteran.

The home also has a home automation system that, among other things, controls all the home’s televisions, lights, appliances, shades, ceiling fans and security cameras — both from a wallmounted panel and remotely by smart phones.

“Thus far, I’m very impressed,” stated Joyce Mason, vice president of marketing for Pardee Homes. She continued, “I think it’s wonderful to show that energy-efficient and green home building can be affordable.”

On the home being a tool for the home building community and general public to learn from, Krom said, “I am excited for people to see how they can adapt the technologies showcased in the ABC Green Home in their own homes. The concept of the home makes innovative ideas more accessible to the general public.” When visitors come to the Great Park and tour the ABC Green Home, they can meet with experts and learn how they can utilize many of the green features in their own home with materials and supplies available today.

For Project Manager of the ABC Green Home, Nicole Feenstra, the home was a true labor of love. Along with the dedication from the partners that have stood behind the project since day one and the Building Industry Technology Academy (BITA) students. “It was like birthing a baby to deal with everything from the slab pour to the last coat of paint,” said Feenstra. “I think it’s important to not be afraid of new products and being open to new products that are green. As the market changes — like building codes — these products will be necessary to building smarter homes,” she added. Morton said, “I was apprehensive at first how the kids would be received on the job site, but to the trade’s credit, they fully embraced the program and gave the kids a once in a lifetime experience that I am sure they will never forget.”

Similar to any endeavor, and being the first of its kind for not only SCE but Green Home Builder magazine as well, there were a few challenges that came along. According to Morton, there was a lot of coordination required on this project and the challenge was to make it work. The end result was undoubtedly a success in the eyes of the industry and partners involved.

The ABC Green Home provides a preview of the innovative spirit and technology that will be on display at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013, to take place October 3rd to 13th, 2013 at the Great Park. This will be the first time this world-famous competition will be held outside of Washington D.C. and the ABC Home will be a key display. The home also will be on display at the Great Park for the next year and open to the public. Eventually, it will be donated to Habitat for Humanity and given to a wounded service person.

The ABC Green Home Project 2.0 is currently in the development phase and the entire team is excited to take it to the next level. Gonzalez said, “I think getting a second opportunity to do it in a two-story version is a chance to underscore the success of the first home, while showing that any scale of home can be affordable, buildable and certifiable.”

Carina Calhoun is editor at Builder and Developer magazine. She may be contacted at Visit for more information.

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