Affordable "green" homes coming to Houston

HOUSTON Now though, one Houston builder thinks he's broken the price barrier, and the City of Houston is taking notice.

It's a work in progress, but it's what's in the construction of this house that's the selling point -- thick insulation all around, and in the attic, "this black tank here is the collector for our solar water collector," Zack Burghli explained.

This is the prototype for solar-powered homes by Burghli homes. Developer Burghli isn't the first builder to bring the concept to the market, but he's the first builder in Houston to put it in the affordable home market.

"If we build a hundred of these in the market, then it's like planting 4500 mature trees," Burghli said. "That's the effect on the environment."

It's a 1700 square foot, 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom house with solar panels on the roof and super insulation in the walls. And if all goes according to Burghli's plan, "we foresee this house using $10 to $25 dollars a month in electricity. 10 to 25 dollars? A month in electricity," Burghli said.

Add in gas and water, and the monthly combined utility bill is projected to be $100 or so. The homes will range from $129,000 to $150,000, with down payment assistance from the City of Houston for qualified low-income buyers.

"That will be one of dozens of homes I want to see built before I leave office that will use solar panels to reduce a person's energy bills to a tiny fraction of what they now use," Mayor Bill White said.

Construction on the first group of homes begins this fall. They will be built in Royal Oaks Terrace off the Eastex Freeway and Little York.

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