Southern California environment news and trends

Green home, green car means no monthly bills

A home in City Ventures’ Signal Hill Collection, the first U.S. neighborhood to couple solar-powered homes with electric vehicle chargers.

City Ventures

Nissan LEAF EV Regional Manager Russell Vare and City Ventures Homebuilding President Herb Gardner at City Ventures’ Signal Hill Collection.


Some Southern California homeowners are saying goodbye to their monthly gas bill. And their fuel bill. And probably most of their monthly electric bill, too.

City Ventures, a sustainable homebuilder based in Santa Ana, unveiled a group of solar homes equipped with electric car chargers that are 100 percent electric Thursday.

The 190 homes, located in Signal Hill, Santa Barbara and Brea, require no natural gas and are comparably priced to normal neighboring homes, starting in the upper $200,000s. Residents in these sustainable homes are expected to save money by eliminating monthly bills and can say they really are completely green, said Herb Gardner, City Ventures President.

People say they're willing to pay a little more for a green home, he said, but when it comes time to write the check, Mother Nature is quickly forgotten, he said.

"What we figured out early on is that we needed to do two things: Figure out a way to be green and not charge buyers one extra penny, and go one step further and make it so that the day-to-day cost of living in a green home is actually less than living in a non-green home," Gardner said. 

The homes are LEED Gold level and Energy Star-certified, and surpass California's Title 24 environment efficiency standards by 30 percent.

Solar panels installed on the roofs are expected to generate enough energy to cover the cost of a home electric bill, and the garages are pre-wired to charge the Nissan Leaf, a completely electric car. Residents without pre-wired homes spend a few thousand dollars to install this charging technology, Gardner said.

Future houses built by City Ventures will be constructed as green, gas-free homes as well. They will be City Ventures projects from the start, rather than projects with piping already in the ground bought from other developers as some of their previous homes have started out. 

Other industries would have been left behind if they didn't innovate, Gardner said, and City Ventures wanted to be the first to start that evolution in homebuilding.  

"We hope we're starting the trend that all builders will pre-wire. Microwaves weren't standard 30 years ago, but now you can't buy a home that doesn't have a microwave," he said.

A group of residents in Santa Barbara moved in about a month ago and a handful have transitioned to the Signal Hill homes as well, Gardner said. Once the bills come in, the firm will know how close to zero the new homeowners' electricity use really is.

City Ventures will host a "Plug into history" open house for units in Signal Hill Saturday, Nov. 19 from noon to 3 p.m.

 

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