March 6, 2015, Special Report
Jacksonville Business Journal
BY ANDREW THURLOW
TerraWise Homes Inc., an energy-efficient homebuilder with developments primarily in Springfield, started nearly two years ago, buying old houses in the historic district and rebuilding them into energy-efficient homes.
David Shacter, president of TerraWise, said that when he first started the business, he looked at several neighborhoods on the Westside before he decided, “Springfield was the perfect match.”
“Springfield has a really tight knit community, and the residents look out for each other here,”·Shacter said. “We’ve never had anything stolen from a job site here. We built a home on the Westside last year and had about $4,000 worth of damages caused to the home.”
"There's a lot of untapped potential in Springfield in restoring old homes,” he said.
The company has twp homes finished and closed, three under construction – two of which are sold - all within walking distance of each other on the . east side of Main Street. The homes range in price from $156,000 to $400,000.
The team recently finished renovating a Net Zero Energy townhome, which is also for sale. Net Zero Energy refers to homes with solar energy systems where, if they generate more energy than the home uses, they get a credit from JEA.
The refurbished homes are built with energy- efficient features such as solar panels on the roof and spray-foam insulation that keeps the home air-sealed. The company also equips each house with argon gas- filled windows, high-performance air conditioners and Energy Star appliances.
"The two largest uses of electricity in a home are air conditioning and water heating," Shacter said. "We use a very high-efficient AC system and water heater. We do everything to lessen the electric load on the house and then we put the solar panels on."
"Similar companies offer solar panels, but no other company does it the way we do," he said.
Although each house is connected to JEA's electric grid, homes are set up using net metering, a billing mechanism that credits homeowners using solar energy systems for power that's added to the grid.
"If your home generates more energy than it uses during the course of a month, then we get a credit from JEA. Hence the term Net Zero Energy," Shacter said.
The typical size of a solar panel is between 5,000 and 6,000 watts, which can cost between $16,000 and $19,000 before a tax credit. For tax returns through 2016, if you put solar on your home, he said, it qualifies for a tax credit of 30 percent of the total cost.
The company recently teamed up with local homebuilders Dostie Homes and D. S. Ware Homes for a 200-plus-Iot community development project in the Oceanway neighborhood on Jacksonville's Northside. Cedarbrook, a 57-acre development, will be near the River City Marketplace and Jacksonville International Airport; the community will offer a variety of architectural styles, including energy-efficient homesites.
Construction on the first phase of the project, which includes streets and infrastructure, has recently been completed, with 73 lots laid out. TerraWise is building 17 of them and Dostie and D. S. Ware are splitting the balance.
Dostie and D. S. Ware model homes are complete and Shacter's model home is slated to be finished by mid-April.
Cedarbrook homes will range from 1,800 square feet to more than 3,000 square feet with prices ranging from the $200,000s to the $400,000s.