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  • Near Zero Energy Home Development unveiled in Whitley County

    Oct 8, 2013 by

    As part of a demonstration project, Kentucky Highlands financed five innovative near zero energy homes in Whitley County, Kentucky. The houses not only will save energy, they will generate electricity that will be sold back to the electric utility.  As a result, homeowners will receive a check from the utility at the end of the year.

    “The homes in this development have integrated some of the best building materials, technology and methods gleaned from research institutions like Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Kentucky to achieve long-term sustainability,” said KHIC’s President and CEO Jerry Rickett. “Our goal is to apply and share design and building innovations learned from the development to future homes and with other affordable housing developers.”

    Photo credit: Kentucky.com

    Photo credit: Kentucky.com

    Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation and two nonprofit affordable housing development partners, KHIC’s Southern Tier Housing Corporation and Bell-Whitley Community Action Agency, led the demonstration project.

    The project was made possible with grants of $300,000 each from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rural Housing Economic Development program and the Community Development Block Grant-Recovery program. Nearly three dozen public and private partner organizations or individuals have contributed to the development.

    “The families who will be moving into these energy-efficient homes in Emlyn mirror families across the nation who are searching for affordable homes with affordable energy bills,” Rogers said. “Strenuous federal regulations on our coalfields threaten Kentucky’s low utility rates, making energy efficiency increasingly important in building projects. These homes will also provide low-income families with more financial freedom to budget for other necessities without relying on government energy assistance programs every winter.”

    Located in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s service area, the homes are built to the Passive House standard, the industry’s highest residential energy efficiency standard.  This is believed to be the first Passive House development in Kentucky.

    Energy efficiency is gained primarily through locating the homes to face a certain direction and a very tight, super-insulated building envelope, which is the boundary separating the inside of the house from the outside.

    Carefully selected Energy Star appliances and lighting improve energy savings for Kentucky’s first Passive House homes, which are also equipped with solar panels.  Electric power produced by the panels and sold back through TVA’s Generation Partners program mean homeowners should receive a check for several hundred dollars at year’s end.

    Three of the five homes are occupied, and another is scheduled to close June 1. The final home is still under construction, and homeowners should move in by mid-summer.

    The households range in size from a single person to two families with three children each. All were from Whitley County and met affordable housing income guidelines.

    Kentucky Highlands’ Near Zero Energy Home Development is an initiative of the Tennessee Valley Corridor, a multi-state regional economic development organization uniting and highlighting the educational, science, research and technology resource partners across four states to advance economic development, technology assets and job creation.

    Other partners included the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, USDA, Tennessee Valley Authority, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, the Whitley County Fiscal Court, Bell-Whitley Community Action Agency, the Whitley County Water District, Jellico Electric & Water System and others.

    Find out more about Kentucky Highlands work at www.khic.org

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