Cathie Anderson

Four couples team up to build LEED Platinum dream home in Davis

Four  couples pooled their resources to build a five-unit building that won the coveted LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Four couples pooled their resources to build a five-unit building that won the coveted LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Longtime Davis residents Dick and Carol Bourne decided about eight years ago that they wanted to downsize and move into the city’s downtown area, but they didn’t want to give up their ultra energy-efficient home.

“We lived in a very energy-efficient home out where we were,” Carol Bourne said. “There was nothing like that downtown. We looked at small, older homes, but they needed a lot of upkeep and would have needed a lot of renovation. We also looked at some newer properties, but they weren’t suitable for those of us who were starting to age. They were two-story instead of one-story or stairs or had an elevator to the second floor but not the third floor.”

The Bournes started looking for property. Then they brainstormed and networked until they found a way to realize their dream without sacrificing their values. They wound up joining three other mature couples to build a community apartment project, Parkview Place, at 444 Fourth St.

Their five-unit building won the coveted LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the couples say, with one of the highest LEED scores ever given a home at 118.5.

All the couples – the Bournes, Don Morrill and Sue Barton, Jerry and Kay Schimke, and David Hosley and Gayle Yamada – have equal ownership in the property and an exclusive right to lease their apartment unit. Together, they self-financed the project at a cost of $1,952,130. That works out to about $488,032.50 per couple.

The cost of the project, Yamada said, was about what they would have paid for a small, older home in the area. She and Hosley signed onto the project right after meeting the other couples. They began construction in January 2013 and began moving in by December of that year.

“We were looking for some place to retire, some place that would be safe, in a downtown area, close to a lot of services,” Hosley said, “so we could get rid of our car and walk or bike around, energy-efficient. It fit all of our criteria.”

The couples have yet to pay an electricity bill. They receive a credit for the surplus electricity generated by their photovoltaic system. On July 8, that credit stood at $392.07. Their water usage has been about half the per-capita usage of other Davis residents.

Parkview’s energy-saving systems cost $129,384, but the four couples didn’t even have to pay that much because rebates brought their bill down to $89,200. The apartment building has such energy-efficient systems as geothermal heat pumps, radiant floors, a night-sky cooling system, solar water heating and that photovoltaic system that sends energy back to the power grid.

Geothermal heat pumps move heat from the earth to the building in winter, Bourne told me, and vice versa in summer. With its airtight design and “thermal mass,” the building remains at a fairly constant temperature. Warm water from the heat pumps flows through the radiant floor to heat the building in winter. In summer, cool water from either the heat pumps or the night-sky storage tank flows through the radiant floors to cool the building.

The tank collects 11,000 gallons of rainwater in winter, using it in summer to spray and cool the roof at night while also cleaning the photovoltaic system, Bourne noted. While some water is lost to evaporation, no additional water is added to the tank before the next rainy season.

Kay Schimke said she never realized how much the heating-ventilation system had contributed to the dust and dirt in her former homes until she moved into Parkview. Yamada has been struck by the fact that her home is always at a comfortable temperature.

Hosley said he and Yamada had always been eco-conscious, but in the last five years, he had become even more mindful of his individual responsibility while researching environmental indicators at the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at the University of California, Merced.

“It became clear to me that we have to do so much more so much faster if we are really going to hand off to the next generation a region that was in good environmental shape,” he said. “That was a motivation for me to step up the way Gayle and I were living, to match up the response that I felt was needed from the public.”

Call The Bee’s Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Follow her on Twitter @CathieA_SacBee

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