Build luxury off-grid developments


In an effort to deliver a high-end and refined living experience, developers around the world are more frequently choosing to choose a focus for their offerings, from architecture to unifying resident philosophy.

The ongoing effort to preserve the environment and combat climate change finds its way into the housing market as a primary consideration long before the construction process. Now there are elite communities going online prioritizing alternative energy use for shoppers who care about the environment as much as location or amenities.

On schedule, some companies are emerging to offer heavy installations of greener energy options like solar power, even to the point of taking some communities out of traditional energy options.

Entero is a Austin, Texas-based company focused on providing clean, low-cost energy to a variety of communities and businesses. It is now possible to remove a luxury development from the fossil-fuel electric grid entirely, insists chief executive Eric Crisler.

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“The solution is usually called a microgrid,” Crisler said. “It includes energy-efficient buildings, solar-powered heat pumps, energy storage and stacking technology that controls how energy sources and uses work together.”

Crisler said that with the addition of natural gas generators as emergency backup power in some climate regions, microgrids are already serving as solutions for businesses, universities and other large electricity consumers. energy. Substantial luxury developments and golf course communities fall into a similar size category.

While a development may come to Entero looking to assemble the total off-grid package, Crisler explained that the company is more often asked about more individual solutions that reduce the carbon footprint for a given site.

“We most often see requests for solar electricity and energy storage,” he says. “At the level of large energy users – as demand increases due to electric vehicle charging, crypto mining, data centers and other uses – there will be an energy transition towards micro-grids and the construction of traditional grids The intelligent integration of technologies and energy sources will allow the use of clean and low-cost energy as much as possible.

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On the construction side, companies continue to connect with the ability to manage solar constructions for environmentally conscious communities, while other companies must adapt and evolve to serve climate-sensitive customers.

Adam Mopsick, CEO of Miami-based Amicon, a real estate advisory and project management firm, confirms that solar capacity in the construction process is critical to his business and will continue to become so as options develop. green energy will increasingly become the norm.

“Energy-efficient building is a growing trend among our customers,” says Mopsick. “It’s not just for energy independence capability, but also for significant potential cost savings.”

Tax incentives for panels now outweigh the costs that previously prevented communities and individual home builders from choosing the solar option, Mopsick said. Many homeowners are reimbursed at the same rate that power companies charge their customers, while others overproduce for their own needs and end up being able to sell power back to the grid.

One high-end luxury community that is heavily committed to off-grid solar power is the 20,000-acre Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel, California. Forrest Arthur, general manager of the Santa Lucia Preserve Community Services District, describes the community’s central mission as “working toward a level of self-sufficiency that can last for hundreds of years.”

Mr Arthur says the work of protecting and enhancing the sustainability of the hilly expanse of Carmel Valley was his main challenge.

“I found the answer on a website for Kunde Family Winery in Northern California,” he said. “They used floating solar panels. Developed by French company Ciel & Terre International, the panels not only offset the cost of pumping water from the cellar, but they also covered most of their basin, providing the shade needed to slow evaporation. .

“Evaporation control is the real sexy part of floating solar,” Arthur added. “Not only do you get a power reduction, but you also shade water, a limited resource. We have to find a way to do something different from what we’ve been doing for 100 years.

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He says a small-scale beta version of the strategy was tested on a small pond at The Preserve in 2018 and found to be effective. The only hurdle was getting a permit from Monterey County as the first such facility in the area.

The Preserve will soon unveil the completion of its latest energy independence project. The development involves installing a $1.5 million solar array and 1,178 panels floating above a major irrigation pond on the property. Installed by Pacific Grove-based Applied Solar Energy, the panels are eight times the size of the original beta versions, covering 60% of the pond. Project organizers estimate that the additional size could save up to 5 million gallons of water through evaporation and will meet 80% of the electricity demand required by the private Preserve golf course off the PG&E grid.

Back in Austin with Entero — between projects off-the-grid luxury communities, country clubs and other properties — Mr. Crisler and his team are finding opportunities to work with disadvantaged communities seeking greater independence. energy.

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Entero develops community solar farms that act as a source of green, low-cost energy for low-income housing residents as well as community members at large.

“Community solar programs are happening across the country,” Crisler explained. “This is a concept that has evolved to give citizens and businesses who cannot afford solar systems access to clean, lower-cost electricity.

Crisler said Entero is aimed at low-income housing communities that are near the power plants the company is building.

“We offer them green energy at a lower cost, just as we would for high-end areas,” he added. “It is possible to take these communities off the grid, especially when it comes to new construction. It’s a solid concept, because reducing energy costs has more of an impact on lower-income communities. »

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