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2021 Demonstration Project Leverages Natural Gas and Renewable Energy to Meet State’s Climate Goals While Lowering Utility Bills for Colorado Families

Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity, Atmos Energy and the Schlessman Family Foundation have launched an innovative partnership to building a natural gas-powered Zero Net Energy home in Evans, Colorado. The project will demonstrate that natural gas is not only affordable but also provides significant greenhouse gas emission reductions. The ZNE home project also aims to produce as much energy as it consumes over a year. To make the home and its family truly self-sufficient it will incorporate building envelope efficiency, passive and active solar technology, and the latest in energy-efficient natural gas appliances and lighting.

Located within Greeley-Weld Habitat’s Mission Springs development in Evans, Colorado, the 1,500 square foot single-family ZNE home will have five bedrooms and two bathrooms. The home will be completely carbon neutral, producing as much energy as it consumes over a year. It’s expected to reduce average monthly utility bills by half, providing significant cost savings for the partner family. The goal of this project is to achieve a Home Energy Rating System index score of zero. The home’s energy-efficient appliances and features include a .95 AFUE natural gas furnace, a .97 Energy Factor natural gas water heater, a 13 SEER air conditioning system and 7 kWh of solar photovoltaic panels.

“Atmos Energy is proud to partner with Habitat for Humanity in providing innovative energy solutions that support affordable homeownership through lower utility bills,” said Rob Leivo, vice president of marketing at Atmos Energy. “Affordable housing provides strength and stability to individuals and families, and we are committed to meeting that need while also delivering resilient and sustainable energy options for all Coloradans.”

Frankie Rodriguez was selected to receive this innovative and energy-efficient home. She’s a hard-working, single mother raising four children, including her adult son with special needs and one grandchild. This home is a dream come true for Rodriguez, who’s been renting an apartment for 30 years. The energy efficiency abilities of this home will give her family peace of mind when it comes time to pay the utility costs.

In addition to delivering an innovative project for a deserving family, Greeley-Weld Habitat is excited to use this project as a template for future developments. The money that families save on monthly energy bills can help them make mortgage payments, or pay for food, clothing and other essentials. These are investments that stay within the local community. Energy efficiency also reduces health risks from internal contaminants and building envelope efficiency offers fewer entry points f or dust, pollen and pests. Additionally, increased efficiency prevents wasted energy, reducing overall energy use and resulting in a healthier and more sustainable environment.

While energy efficiency may modestly increase construction costs, the resulting homes are safe and sustainable. Increased building efficiency and decreased utility costs more than offset the up-front investment and result in quality, affordable and sustainable communities. This project will provide a working model for future affordable housing development, providing strength and community stability while meeting the climate resiliency and sustainability needs of Colorado for years to come.


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