Sustainable Homes

Solar panels on house

Our homes are our sanctuaries – an extension of who we are – with the ability to evolve and reinvent themselves with the times.  Our homes are also our largest expense and typically the source of our largest energy and natural resource footprint. Homeowners planning renovations and new home builds enjoy an exciting array of sustainable choices including “green” building products, EnergyStar electric appliances, solar shades, ceiling fans, heat pumps, solar power with or without backup battery storage, automation, and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. It’s even possible to build net zero/passive homes. 

Federal tax credits, solar energy credits, and low-cost Green loans make these revolutionary ecosystems quite affordable and in some cases generate revenue. Sustainable choices for new build and home improvements come together to maximize comfort and energy efficiency, creating a healthier living environment.

Tesla Powerwall residential backup batteries

Achievements to Date

  • 21% of Fairfield homes have undergone an energy audit (Home Energy Solutions, or HES) between 2010 and 2019 to identify sources of wasted energy and remediate them to save money, increase energy efficiency, and add value to the home
  • 350 Fairfield residences have received Green Bank solar incentives
  • In 2015-16, the Sustainable Fairfield Task Force gave away more than 2,000 LED bulbs to residents at events
  • Almost 400 EVs are currently registered in Fairfield

Challenges Ahead

  • Need for an updated Town carbon emissions/sustainability reporting model so that Town decision-making aligns with county and state emissions goals
  • Engaging and convincing homeowners to adopt sustainable principles in all home improvements and builds
  • Zero-carbon solutions in the built environment abound, yet builders and developers are slow to adopt these new building materials and technologies
  • Increasing the percentage of homes undergoing an HES home energy audit
  • Promoting the environmental benefits of sustainable residential landscaping and man-made architectural landscape features (“hardscaping”)

Benefits of Sustainable Homes

  • Reduced or net-zero conventional energy use
  • Reduced or net-zero GHG emissions
  • Financial returns on investment in the form of energy savings, maintenance savings, and lower insurance rates
  • Optimized comfort and healthfulness of the home ecosystem, both inside and outside
  • Built-in resilience to extreme weather and other climate change events
  • Attractive, sustainable landscaping emphasizing native pollinator-friendly plantings, reducing lawn, organic/chemical-free management, and efficient water use
  • Sustainable homes are eligible for certifications and awards, setting positive examples for others to emulate
  • Live in harmony with nature and within the limits of Earth’s finite system

2030 Plan Goals*

  • 100% home energy audit (HES) participation
  • Launch Fairfield Sustainable Homes Campaign and garner 80%+ participation
  • Provide homeowners with a turnkey Fairfield Sustainable Homes Playbook that offers sustainable approaches for new and existing homes that include incentives, i.e., cash rebates, low-cost loans, and federal tax credits
  • 50% of suitable homes solarized
  • 1,200 electric vehicles registered to Fairfield residents
  • A “no fossil fuel” building ordinance
  • 100% of homes converted to zero emissions lawn care
  • 100% of homes participating in Pollinator Pathway

*Some goals are ambitious, and may need more time to achieve target participation rates; others can be achieved sooner, but work on all goals should begin as soon as possible

How do we reach our goals?

  • Explore programmatic and data collection coordination with Sustainable CT’s plan for municipalities, and Metropolitan Area Policy Council’s (MAPC) newly released community greenhouse gas inventory tool
  • Metrics and reporting to include, but not be limited to, number of homes with rooftop solar; number of homes having undergone an energy audit; number of homes using organic and sustainable landscaping; number of homes opting for CT Clean Energy Options (50% or 100% of power from UI coming from renewable sources); number of homes with outdoor composting
  • Promote home energy audits – a straightforward entry point for homeowners to acquire a growing sense of sustainability in thinking about their homes
  • Garner Town support for a Sustainable Homes Campaign to educate and empower consumers to adopt sustainable principles in home ecosystems (home, hardscapes, landscapes)
  • STEAMS (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Sustainability) education storytelling makes sustainable behavior aspirational to any age while sharing and creating best practices

Thanks to Analiese Paik and Rainer Schrom for their input and expertise in contributing to this document.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Connecticut Green Bank Homeowner Programs
Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)
MAPC Community GHG Inventory
Sierra Club Resources
Appraisal Institute: Leadership on Green and Energy-Efficient Valuation
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