Breckenridge: Valley Brook development exceeds energy-efficiency expectations |

Breckenridge: Valley Brook development exceeds energy-efficiency expectations

Special to the Daily/Jen Miller

The deed-restricted homes at the Breckenridge Valley Brook neighborhood will be even more affordable for residents thanks to extensive energy-saving measures that earned the homes Home Energy Rating System (HERS) scores in the 40-50 range.

The scores, which surpassed the initial goal of 70, mean the residences are 50 to 60 percent more energy efficient than a home built to development codes, which would have earned a score of 100.

Valley Brook’s big successes in energy conservation were in the homes’ solar panels and heat-retention features. The units are fitted with batt insulation, Energy Star windows and an efficient mechanical system.

“It’s really important with affordable workforce housing that owning and operating the house is as affordable as possible,” Breckenridge planner Laurie Best said.

The rating for the neighborhood also furthers town sustainability goals, Best said.

The three-year Valley Brook project came to fruition in January, when residents began moving into the units built in the first phase of construction.

The 42-unit development, which is to be built in three phases, offers Breckenridge residents affordable in-town housing with easy access to recpaths, ski lifts, Upper Blue Elementary and jobs in downtown Breck.

High Country Conservation Center, the organization responsible for the energy evaluations on the first phase of Valley Brook homes, said its aiming for an even higher rating on the next phase of units by continuing to reduce air leakage.

“Looking toward phase two, we’re going to try to improve even more,” said Matt Wright, a residential energy specialist with the High Country Conservation Center.

The Breckenridge Planning Commission is also considering building incentives for good HERS ratings into the town development code, Best said.

“We think it’s really the way to build,” she said.

The Breckenridge Town Council began working with Mercy Housing on plans for the development in 2008. The council later decided to continue developing the neighborhood on its own through the Summit Housing Development Corporation. Breckenridge donated the land, staff and some funding for the project for a total investment of about $1.5 million. The town built the houses in phases to save money and ensure the homes were reserved before they were built.

Breckenridge’s subsidy of the project compensates for the deed-restricted houses priced for buyers at less than 75 percent of the area median income. The area median income for a family of four in Summit County is $87,200.

Best said approximately 2 percent of the budget for the project went into achieving the HERS ratings.

For information on how to improve energy in existing homes, contact HC3 at (970) 668-5703.

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