Green community in the Houston area

HOUSTON The homes look and sound like any other, but, in fact, they are beyond ordinary -- some might even call them extraordinary.

"There's no other community like this," Patrick Bullard, developer of the community, and owner of Land Tejas Companies, said. "This is the first solar powered, hybrid community of its size anywhere in America."

The idea is to "go green," and save money as well as the environment, thousands of new homes at a time.

"We see there being a huge need and demand for houses like this," expert John Short, and president of Canyon Gate Technologies, said.

The houses in the Discovery at Spring Trails community will have at least 15 percent of their power produced by solar panels. Short says the homes will also include highly efficient insulation, appliances, and the ability to monitor energy use throughout the house.

Energy monitors will show not only how much energy the house is using at the moment, but also how much solar power is being generated. The monitors will also show energy use over time, and they can also show how much energy is being saved.

"Saving the environment, saving money, saving energy, being comfortable in your house, all of that comes together," potential homebuyer Jay Rysavy said.

Rysavy and his wife, Era Ford, were impressed with the plans for the new community.

"They've thought through how the process would work best for individuals like us who want to live green, and that means for us more than just saving energy or saving money," Ford said.

The home lots are currently empty. Sales are just beginning, but there are big plans for a solar farm to provide power to the common areas, and to recycle water for reuse inside the community.

"If they pay more in a mortgage, they're going to be getting that money back in terms of energy savings on their utility bills," Short said.

A home at Discovery at Spring Trails will cost $227,500.

"It's a good affordable way for people to enter into the green market," Short said.

The community is expected to have up to 3,000 new homes.

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