In the same week that the State Construction Industry Commission appointed by Governor Susana Martinez abandoned the New Mexico Energy Conservation Code, a new line of low-cost solar “Zero Energy” homes was announced. Alan Hoffman, director of Natural Homes, a marketing group within Prudential Santa Fe Real Estate, says the homes are comfortable, healthy to live in, and can be built almost anywhere and in any style.

“We have been lied to for years,” says Hoffman. “The government and large-scale builders have claimed that Zero Energy homes could not be built for a price that working families can afford. But with the evolution of building science and the drop in the cost of solar electric panels, builders in New Mexico and around the country have proven that this is not true. New Mexico companies such as Renaissance Builders and Artistic Homes have been delivering Zero Energy homes at competitive prices for several years. Utilizing innovative design, super insulation, energy efficient appliances and lighting as well as photovoltaic panels on the roof, these homes generate an annual net energy bill of zero.”

According to the organization Architecture 2030 (www.architecture2030.org) 49% of all energy demand in America is used in buildings. Architecture 2030’s founder, Santa Fean Ed Mazria, says that as this country faces energy insecurity and the effects of climate change, our very survival may depend on making existing buildings more efficient. He has called for making Zero Energy homes the norm by the year 2030.

Kim Shanahan, Director of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association (SFAHBA) is working to educate the group’s members on how and why to build more efficient buildings. He says, “We call on our members to rise to the occasion and achieve the efficiencies available today, and to inform buyers that these homes are available at around the same price as less efficient homes.”

Some of Natural Homes’ LEED-certified Zero Energy homes have provided buyers as much as $25,000 in state and federal tax credits. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a federal program offering up to $9 per square foot federal tax credits plus solar tax credits for qualifying homes.

This month, the SFAHBA and Natural Homes, along with other sponsors, are offering free workshops on these topics for buyers and builders starting July 8. The workshops will take place in a passive solar home designed by Hoffman that is being upgraded to Zero Energy. The workshops will cover the essentials of what the new building techniques are, how existing homes can be renovated to achieve Zero Energy, how they are rated and what tax benefits are available.

For more information, call 505.316.0449 or visit www.newvillage.com.