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Nation's First Net-Zero Energy Housing Planned

The nation's first net zero energy townhome development is planned for Dunedin, with the firm making the solar panels planning to move to St. Petersburg.

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Affordable, energy-efficient housing is a little greener, especially for future residents of a development in Dunedin. And it should keep their wallets greener, too.

Officials just broke ground on what will be the nation’s first affordable, LEED-certified, net zero energy townhome development on Dunedin’s historic Lorraine Leland tract Wednesday.

There is a stack of 91 reservations for 25 homes in the future Eco Village at Dunedin.

The two-story, 1,100 to 1,500-square-foot townhomes, designed by Mesh Architecture, will be equipped with LED lighting, electric car chargers, General Electric's Ecomagination home energy management systems and power-saving appliances, and solar panels from a European company called Algatec Solar that plans to move its manufacturing facility to St. Petersburg.

"There's gonna be a lot of disappointed people," said Chuck Burkett, a president for Eco Village developer Planet Green Group. "People say we are in a housing crisis and nobody's buying... Let this be a lesson to everybody that people need affordable housing."

The homes are priced from $135,000 to $175,000, and will be marketed to nurses, teachers, firefighters, law enforcement, veterans, and other “hometown heroes.”

The monthly utility bill should be $0, officials said. David Kelly, chairman of the Dunedin Housing Authority, estimated that monthly payments for the homeowners would be around $600.

City officials hope the green projects will help preserve the integrity and history of the area.

The homes are being constructed in the heart of the area on Lorraine Leland Street between Martin Luther King Jr. and Douglas avenues. It was once the site of Highland Village, an affordable housing development that officials demolished in 2004 because it became too costly to maintain.

The new development joins  Habitat for Humanity's energy-efficient housing development for low-income families (Shady Grove Townhome) just a block south on Howell Street.

Dunedin Housing Authority donated the land to the Housing Finance Authority of Pinellas County, where it was put into the Community Land Trust, in 2007. 

The project is expected to be complete in early 2013.

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