Local builder gets a round of applause for his ‘Performance’

‘A penny saved is a penny earned’ has taken on a whole new meaning for Greenwich native and Master Certified Green Professional (MCGP) Pete Fusaro, who took home the coveted 2012 HOBI award for Best Green Energy-Efficient Spec Home from the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut last night.

Mr. Fusaro’s company, Preferred Builders Inc., which is located in Riverside, earned the award for constructing one of the most energy-efficient homes in the state, an Old Greenwich structure they’ve dubbed “The Performance House.”

Though he founded the company 25 years ago, Mr. Fusaro said Preferred Builders has only become focused on green building in recent years. The inspiration to focus on energy-efficient construction arose six years ago when Mr. Fusaro’s son, Mike, was home from college for the summer and often spoke of the stress his school placed on saving energy and water.

“As we were building the current house it made me really start thinking about how much impact this house would have on everyone who lived in it and the environment around it,” Mr. Fusaro explained. “Since then I’ve started taking courses and traveled to many different states around the country to get educated,” he said.

The first person in the state to receive his MCGP designation, Mr. Fusaro is also one of Connecticut’s first Accredited Verifiers for the National Green Building Program, a Certified HERS Rater, Building Envelope Professional, Building Analyst Professional and serves as president of the Home Builders and Remodeling Association of Fairfield County.

Using his building expertise and newly acquired certifications, Mr. Fusaro began the process of creating the 2,300 square foot performance house in February 2011, by demolishing the property’s old house, obtaining architectural and civil engineering plans and acquiring the necessary building permits. Construction then began in August of that year and the home was finally completed last month after nearly two years of tireless work, Mr. Fusaro said.

And although it took three months longer than a traditional home to build, he said the performance house had many extra pieces of the puzzle to fit together.

“Building science is a big part, especially with new products that have come out. Everything needs to be compatible with each other,” the builder explained. “It starts by design and planning well before construction begins when you are building a home that is so airtight and energy-efficient.”

With $10 electric bills and the ability to produce enough of its own energy to give back to the grid, the performance house is the wave of the future, Mr. Fusaro said. Within the next few years, he explained, all homes’ energy performance levels will be measured and displayed in real estate listings for potential buyers to evaluate. He feels the performance house is ahead of the curve.

“An educated consumer when purchasing a vehicle always looks at the sticker on the window for miles per gallon. Most educated people… will understand the value of owning a home that has the same sticker placed on the electrical panel that shows it’s consumption of energy,” Mr. Fusaro explained.

With a nearly endless supply of energy-efficient features, the performance house boasts everything from LED lighting that uses a mere 13.8 watts of power per fixture, to solar panels, to the kitchen appliances, each of which is Energy Star certified and water conserving.

Mr. Fusaro also chose to utilize the Owens Corning Energy Complete System which maximized savings by reducing air infiltration, the central cause of energy loss in the average home. The system is a complete home insulation and air sealing method that will reduce homeowners’ heating and cooling bills by up to 33%, Mr. Fusaro said.

The home even has an electric car charger in the garage that not only produces the power to charge an electric vehicle but contains panels that produce power for the house as well. It is the performance home’s certifications, including LEED certification which is the most recognized international standard for green buildings, however, that makes it one-of-a–kind, Mr. Fusaro said.

“It is actually one of the first [homes] in the state, not just Greenwich, with all of the combined highest achievement levels per certification,” he explained. And with strict third party inspectors ensuring that the home is up to par with certification requirements, there is no greenwashing — an organization’s false claim to be environmentally friendly. “This is all certified and legit,” he said.

Now that the house has been completed, the only thing left to do is find it a suitable buyer, Mr. Fusaro said.

In order to find a buyer that fully appreciates the value of the home, he said, Preferred Builders offers educational open houses, including one that will take place Nov. 18, to explain the building’s energy-efficient features to local Realtors.

“I’ve been working so hard [on designing the house] I can’t even tell you,” Mr. Fusaro said. “The big payoff will be getting a family in there that realizes the value.”

The HOBI award is not the only piece of good news that Mr. Fusaro has received lately. He is now officially certified to work on the federal Department of Energy challenge home project, which is a major new opportunity for him.

As for the future, Mr. Fusaro said the performance house was not an experiment but a method of building that Preferred Builders will employ from here on out.

“I feel people should be responsible for their carbon footprint,” he said.

 

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