From changing weather patterns to a growing population, Denver has been experiencing the effects of climate change with increasing demand, first and foremost, for housing.
The city of Denver has started an initiative for all future housing developments to have all-electric heating and cooling starting in 2024 in an effort to combat climate change. While challenges arise, Thrive Home Builders has set out to be problem solvers, presenting sustainable building options to be part of the solution in the fight against climate change.
Founder and Chief Sustainability Officer of Thrive Home Builders Gene Myers believes in the importance of trying to build sustainably to help the environment.
“No one home builder can turn the tide on climate change, but what can we do? We can do all we can do! I think that is all we are ever asked to do,” Myers said.
Thrive Home Builders is a local residential development company that has been addressing the housing demand throughout Colorado and the Metro Denver area, specializing in building carbon-neutral housing. Thrive has built neighborhoods in Littleton, Superior, and Fort Collins, but their newest undertaking in southwest Denver might revolutionize the way neighborhoods are viewed forever.
Near the historic Loretto Heights campus, Thrive is constructing the first all-electric neighborhood in Colorado. The 300 all-electric homes and townhomes will be built with roof-top solar panels that can serve as additional renewable energy sources. The upcoming neighborhood plans to set the precedent for future housing developments in Colorado and throughout the country.
In addition to the homes being environmentally friendly, they are set to have healthier conditions for living. Director of Marketing and Communications for Thrive Home Builders Shadia Lemus spoke about some of the features which make the E-PWR® homes unique. They’ll include features like an electric water heater and fireplace, replacing the traditional natural gas fixtures. All homes will also be equipped with All Indoor airPlus qualified HVAC, keeping indoor air quality healthier than outside. As a bonus feature, residents could even receive rebates from Xcel Energy due to the rooftop solar panels.
“According to our estimates, we expect that homeowners can get back upwards of $1,300 per year,” Lemus said.
Myers, the visionary behind the concept, became inspired in his home office during the COVID-19 pandemic. As he looked out his window, he could not see the mountains due to wildfire smoke decreasing visibility. The smoggy landscape changed his outlook on construction.
“It occurred to me that we were stuck at home because of the pandemic. We couldn’t go outside because the air was so bad,” Myers said. “It dawned on me that home is the last stand and we need to make sure they are safe and healthy and as builders, we have to do what we can against climate change.”
Myers believes in building the most sustainable way possible and he is confident the E-PWR® homes will be a successful venture. He hopes that Thrive will be carbon-neutral by the end of 2024.
“All-electric gets us to operational carbon neutrality, but [Thrive] is moving towards embodied carbon neutrality,” he said.
Embodied carbon neutrality refers to the emissions let-off during the construction of different buildings. This can allow Thrive to sustain its developments without being detrimental to the environment.
“[The U.S.] signed a treaty, the Paris Agreement, stating that we will get to carbon neutrality by 2050. I’ve seen varying estimates of the contributions of buildings to the carbon footprint from 20 to 40%. We won’t get to carbon neutrality by 2050 if we don’t change how we operate in our industry,” Myers said.
The homes will be priced in the range of $400,000-$800,000. Myers has complete confidence that homebuyers in the new neighborhood will align with Thrive’s mission of setting a new standard for homes that improve life. By being a choice in the market, Myers believes a safer, cleaner option for the environment can pique consumers’ interest.
“My hope is by going carbon-neutral that we can get other builders to follow and that our customers follow us by making the biggest purchase of their lives to try and be a part of the solution rather than the problem,” Myers said.