Photovoltaic panels are not an option in the Solaris Collection. In this master planned community in Daybreak, south of Salt Lake City, they’re standard on every home. “From the start, we decided to build affordable, energy-efficient houses in contemporary styles,” says Bryson Garbett, president of Garbett Homes. “It was a niche that nobody else was filling.”
Sales, at prices of $209,000 to $265,000, have been brisk. Buyers see the solar panels on the roof and know immediately that the homes are energy efficient. At 1,442 to 2,077 square feet, the homes are modest in size. “They can’t be too big because then you would need too many panels,” says architect John Tully of KTGY Group. “If you let the size drift up, it becomes an unbalanced equation.”
The homes’ simple, boxy forms are clad primarily in stucco, with fiber-cement siding accents. Minimal embellishments, such as low front porches, look modern and eliminate the need for pricey railings. Large windows add interest to the façades and lots of light inside. “The floor plans hang their hats on big windows,” says Tully.
The super tight dwellings feature rigid foundation foam as well as spray foam and blown-in insulation, low-E windows, tankless water heaters, and geothermal heating and cooling, earning the homes HERS ratings in the 40s. Green design carries throughout the interiors, with energy savers such as low-flow faucets and dual-flush toilets, Energy Star appliances, bioengineered wood flooring, low-VOC paints, and recycled carpets and pads.
Buyers are attracted to the eye-catching, colorful designs, but also to incentives offered by the utility companies and a federal tax credit of up to $8,500. “Daybreak is a unique community, and we’ve had great support from the city,” says Garbett. “I don’t know if we could have done this anywhere else.” The concept works, and he plans to keep on building. “We really hit the nail on the head, people just love them.”