Energy efficiency and solar power combine in unique subdivision

The River Trail subdivision under construction in the Grand Valley will involve, from left, Rich Rochette and Mike Queally of Apex Realty; Kevin Reimer, the landowner and developer; and Darin Carei, owner of Senergy Builders. When completed, the subdivision will include 200 energy efficient homes, each equipped with solar power. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Darin Carei brings all of his business enterprises together in a unique Grand Valley housing development that will offer energy efficient homes equipped with solar power.

Moreover, the homes will offer affordability with models priced from $179,000 to $224,000.

“We’re changing the way people think about new homes because we’re delivering it all,” Carei said.

Carei owns Senergy Builders, a Grand Junction firm that builds single- and multi-family homes that meet Energy Star standards for energy efficiency. Carei is also part-owner of EnergyWise Consultants,which provides a range of services related to energy conservation. Carei recently joined with three employees to purchase Atlasta Solar Center, which installs solar energy systems.

When completed, the River Trail subdivision near D and 32 Roads will include 200 homes, each of them meeting Energy Star standards for energy efficiency and equipped with 3-kilowatt photovoltaic systems.

The subdivision is not only one of the largest under construction in the region, but the only one to include the energy efficiency and solar power features, said Mike Queally, who as owner of Apex Realty in Grand Junction, will help sell homes there.

Rich Rochette, a broker associate at Apex Realty, said the response among potential buyers to the concept already has been receptive. “They’re excited about it.”

Kevin Reimer, a Grand Valley hotel operator and land developer, purchased the property on which the subdivision will be built in part because of the access it affords to the nearby Riverfront Trail. He said he’s been waiting more than seven years for the right opportunity to arise to start building.

“It’s exciting to be here today and see some vertical construction going on,” Reimer said.

The River Trail subdivision will feature six models of homes ranging in size from 1,329 square feet to 1,891 square feet. Both one- and two-level models are available and offer three- and four-bedroom layouts. The models offer what Carei called “fresh” architectural designs inside and out.

A model home under construction in the subdivision should be completed within a couple of month. The first phase of the subdivision includes 31 lots. Queally said he hopes one or two units will be sold each month.

The Energy Star efficiency standards and photovoltaic systems constitute an important distinction in differentiating the homes from other new construction, Carei said.

Homes that meet Energy Star standards offer at least 15 percent more energy efficiency than homes built to regular residential building codes. But Carei said he expects his homes to offer even more efficiency with such features as doubled-glazed vinyl windows, energy efficient lighting, Energy Star rated appliances, insulated foundations and garage doors and programmable thermostats.

Counting the photovoltaic system, homeowners should realize up to a two-thirds savings in energy costs over what they’d pay in a similarly sized size house without those features, he said. That means a homeowner who otherwise might pay $150 in heating and electricity bills a month would pay only $50.

The savings could be used for many things — including paying down the principal of a mortgage and substantially shortening the term, Carei said. The reduced utility costs combined with historically low mortgage interest rates make the houses more affordable, he added.

Carei said more and more homeowners are demanding energy efficient construction and more and more builders are responding. “We want to be in front of it,” he said.