Granite Geek: Is carbon-negative housing possible?

“The world is facing a whole host of environmental problems and tackling them one at a time might not work. So let’s tackle all of them at once.

That’s a slight exaggeration – but only slight – of the thinking behind a housing development being proposed down in Amherst. It’s an environmentally oriented project that contains so many interconnected ideas it’s in a category without a real name yet, although there are some ponderous possibilities.

‘There’s a ‘regenerative neighborhood’ that has been permitted in Peterborough, and an ‘agri-hood’ in South Burlington, Vt.,’ said R. Carter Scott, president of a development firm in Brookline called TransFarmation. ‘I think we can do it here.’”
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2015 Award for Excellence in Sustainability

The team behind Transfarmations won the 2015 award for Excellence in Sustainability, Sustainable Development Project for their work as Transformations, Inc on the Housing Pilot Project in Devens, Massachusetts.

"The 2015 Awards for Excellence in Sustainability honors those projects, policies, plans and people who show exemplary scholarship, leadership and inspiration in sustainability planning and implementation."
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2013 Zero Net Energy Homes Public Impact Award

"You have created a market for and built more zero net homes than any member of our community. The buildings you help create are amazing models of efficiency, at prices that are affordable to a mass audience. We thank you for your hard work and dedication to transforming our new housing stock into net zero and beyond."
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2013 Winner - Custom House
Housing Innovations Awards

MassDevelopment put out a request for qualifications for developer/builders to design and build net zero energy homes at its Devens residential community. The Transformations team was chosen to build 8 single family net zero energy homes.

In the new homes, the utility bills have averaged a credit of $58 per month back to the homeowner. “I know it sounds funny, but it almost feels like stealing,” joked one homeowner. “It’s amazing!” All of Transformations Inc.’s production and custom homes in the Devens Green Zero-Energy Community start with the same baseline systems.
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Fine Homebuilding's 2013 HOUSES Awards

"As president of Transformations Inc., (Carter) Scott does what many builders across the country deemed impossible... Carter was doing the miraculous, which is not only thinking about the engineering as he was changing the systems, but also managing to do a spec home where he could make the prices work...”
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2013 Winner - Production House
Housing Innovations Awards

Since 2009, Scott has teamed with building scientists from Building Science Corporation through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Building America Program to test and apply ways to increase energy efficiency, bring down costs, and improve the aesthetics of the homes. “Working with Building Science Corporation has been wonderful,” said Scott. “We have learned that building high-performance homes is not that hard. You need to focus on the building shell and simplify the mechanicals.”
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Energy Positive Homes in Devens, Massachusetts

"With a net-zero-energy home, you solve your share of the 48 percent carbon emissions that come from the U.S. building sector — and you don’t have any utility bills to pay. We now can go beyond this goal and start to address the 33 percent of carbon emissions generated by the overall U.S. transportation sector!"
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Zero Energy & Beyond

The Devens project has been a resounding success on many levels. These homes met the goals of MassDevelopment, which was pleased with the aesthetics, the pace of homes sales, and the energy efficiency. MassDevelopment sponsored two zero-energy home workshops to help get the word out to other builders and developers.
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Easthampton Development Features ‘Net-Zero’ Home

"When Michelle and David Zagorski moved into one of nine homes for low-income first-time homebuyers in a development off Button Road in July 2012, they knew they were getting a so-called net-zero home — one that has the potential to produce as much energy as it uses. But that didn’t mean much to them at the time."
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Zero Energy Challenge -Second Place

"In some ways, our program has failed Carter.  The EnergyStar Homes Program has been an educational program for years, teaching builders how to build more efficient housing.  In this case, Carter has taught us how to build energy efficient housing and we've learned a lot from him..."
-Keith Freischlag, Unitil
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