FAIRFAX, Va. — There’s no windmill in the front yard, no sod growing on the roof. The home doesn’t look like a spaceship and it’s not isolated on some distant mountainside.
Brookfield Residential’s PureBlue Home sits at the corner of a quiet cul-de-sac street inside the popular Avendale community in Northern Virginia. The home certainly catches your eye. The architecture is traditionally beautiful and the interior design is absolutely stunning. That’s enough to satisfy most home shoppers.
But you wouldn’t guess all that’s happening beneath the surface. You wouldn’t guess that you’re looking at an ultra-efficient, “net zero” energy concept home.
Much like the cutting-edge concept cars produced by automakers like BMW, The PureBlue Home is a showcase and an experiment, a test to see whether one homebuilder can help push an entire industry past the stigmas and stereotypes associated with modern green homes.
“We’ve set out to prove that you don’t have to sacrifice your style, your comfort or your way of life to live in an extraordinarily efficient home,” said Robert Hubbell, president of Brookfield Residential’s Washington, D.C., division. “The PureBlue Home is a real home, meant for everyday people. We think that’s how it should be, so this is an experiment to see if we can bring the latest technology to production homes.”
The PureBlue Home celebrated a successful Grand Opening in March, earning rave reviews from home shoppers and others in the real estate industry. It remains open to the public and visitors can stop in each room to see the lengths that Brookfield Residential has gone to maximize energy efficiency—from the solar panels to the healthy, high-efficiency HVAC system and the greywater system that captures and recycles rainwater.
But visitors can also see that those efforts have not infringed on the dynamic design Brookfield Residential has become known for.
“This is one of the most attractive homes we’ve ever built,” Marketing Manager Erin Smith said. “Throughout this project, we really put equal emphasis on sustainability and style.”
Brookfield Residential is no stranger to green homebuilding.
For a decade, the team has been experimenting and expanding its energy-efficient options. But Brookfield Residential is also a production homebuilder, with homes and communities in 11 major North American markets. Its Washington, D.C., division builds in more than a dozen communities in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. They offer everything from townhomes to luxury estate homes.
Through its Brookfield Blue program, the homebuilder already boasts an expansive portfolio of efficient, sustainable options. The PureBlue Home is an effort to take it a step further. Rather than marketing and selling it as a complete package, Brookfield Residential hopes to pinpoint the most effective elements and make them available for a variety of home styles and floorplans through Brookfield Blue.
To bring The PureBlue Home to life, Hubbell enlisted some of the division’s sharpest minds from a variety of fields and disciplines. Each brought a unique perspective and fresh ideas. The result is that many of the most innovative features are seamlessly integrated and almost imperceptible.
“The biggest compliment that we hear is when someone tours the home and they tell us, ‘This isn’t what I expected at all,’” Hubbell said. “That’s because we’re all trained to think that an energy-efficient home is supposed to look a certain way. It’s supposed to be weird, cold and impersonal. We have to get beyond that. I think this will be a big step in the right direction.”
The PureBlue Home is more like an exhibition of modern style —sleek and trendy yet cozy and comfortable. It feels like home, first and foremost. And, by the way, the bathrooms and appliances are designed to conserve water and energy. The air you’re breathing has been conditioned for the healthiest possible air quality.
The cabinets, the counters, the carpet, even the driveway and the landscaping, all of it is sustainable and eco-friendly.
“We really went above and beyond as far as trying new things,” Smith said. “As you walk around the home, inside and out, there’s a story behind everything you see. Everything was chosen for a reason, and it all works really well together.”
A BRIGHT FUTURE
Because PureBlue is a long-term experiment, the team won’t have the information it seeks next week or even next month. The answers will reveal themselves over time, but so far, they are optimistic.
“All the data we collect, we can compare it side by side to other models right next door— in the same neighborhood, same size, same scale,” said project manager Marc Dalessio. “We’ll be able to do a comparison to see how efficient this home actually is compared to a typically built product.”
Dalessio said The PureBlue Home scored an impressive -1 on the industry’s standard Home Energy Rating System Index, meaning that the home is expected to generate more energy than it consumes. A new home built just five years ago averages a 103. If even a fraction of these features can be integrated into a typical Brookfield Residential home, the project will be a success.
In fact, the team has already heard so many compliments about the new floorplan that they are considering adding it to their home design collection. For now, though, the team is excited to watch as visitors tour the home and get a sense of everything the company is doing to build homes where energy efficiency and stylish comfort can co-exist.
“Innovation is in our DNA,” Hubbell said. “We’re always trying to make a better home—better for the environment and better for the family who lives in it. You shouldn’t have to choose one or the other. If you tour The PureBlue Home, you’ll see that Brookfield Residential is pushing past those preconceived limitations. And if I was looking for a new home, that’s the type of builder I’d want to work with.”