One of the model homes at Solar Verde Estates; the
facades are meant to emulate turn-of-the-20th-century
Midwest mail-order homes.
Solar Verde Estates is
being marketed as a planned community of 20 zero-energy “green” homes on the
southeast side of Chicago. The rooftop solar PV system is the key point of the
energy efficiency of the homes. (No solar thermal, however.) I was at the grand
opening last summer of two model homes in the community. The facades of each
model home are meant to emulate turn-of-the-20th-century Midwest mail-order
homes. Both are two-story, almost 1,600 square feet, with three bedrooms, 2 1/2
baths, and a full basement.
live in Chicago and want to TCP (Take Care of the Planet), make sure Green E, the environmental Elvis, is at your next event!
celebration included lunch, speeches from the local congressman and the builder
(Bernie Schmidt of Green Homes Midwest), as well as music performances by Green
E, the environmental Elvis
. Green E (“the earth-friendly Elvis impersonator”)
takes familiar Elvis Presley songs and rewrites them with eco-friendly messages
- “Don’t Waste Fuel” to the tune of “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Are You Recycling
Tonight?” to the tune of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and much more. The small
crowd gathered for the grand opening of the homes got a kick out of Green E,
even getting autographed photos of him (including yours truly!).
of TCB (Taking Care of Business), Green E advocates TCP - Taking Care of the
Planet. If you live in Chicago and want to TCP, make sure Green E is at your
next event! He’s pretty funny, too - he made the day for me.
The PV system (solar shingles mounted on the
back of the homes) is supposed to provide all the power and energy that the
home will need for a typical family - a mini power plant.
The PV system (solar shingles mounted on the back
of the homes) is supposed to provide all the power and energy that the home
will need for a typical family - a mini power plant. It relies on the
Illinois-mandated “net-metering” agreement that feeds excess energy back to
Commonwealth Edison for credits and allows the homeowner to bank this energy
for later use. Energy is produced during daylight, banked with the utility
company for credits and used when the sun is not shining. The size of the
system is such that it allows the homeowner to benefit from net-zero electric
bills during a one-year period.
Green features of the homes include low-flow and double-flush toilets; hot
water is delivered to the home via an on-demand water heater.
Other green features of
the homes include: low-flow and double-flush toilets; hot water is delivered to
the home via an on-demand water heater; all the appliances for the homes are
Energy Star-rated; heating and cooling is provided by an energy-efficient heat
pump; the extruded polystyrene exterior wall system has an R-value of R-40;
window and skylight placement for natural lighting; bamboo flooring and low-VOC
carpeting; tile made of 50 percent recycled content; countertops of recycled
plastic laminate; and kitchen cabinets are made of renewable wheatboard and
sustainably forested beech wood.
The grand opening last summer of Solar
Verde Estates, marketed as a planned community of 20 zero-energy
“green” homes on the southeast side of Chicago.
was impressed with the planned community’s intentions, but since I toured the
homes last summer, the project has stalled - most likely because of the recession.
For current information on the project, click here