“Behind the Curtin” provides an inside look at local homeowners’ beautifully-crafted houses, giving insight into what it takes to renovate, upgrade, and style the most coveted parts of their dream homes. In this video series, industry expert and business owner Joanne Curtin explores local homes while interviewing their owners who live well in their homes to better understand their thought processes when making important decisions. Join Joanne to get a look into the world of luxurious real estate one wonderful home at a time.
“Behind the Curtin” Episode 7 – A Net Zero New Home in Roswell Georgia
Joanne Curtin, Wynn Tierney, net zero home consultant, and Steven Sanders-Myers, Brightwater net zero engineer, discuss the newest Brightwater Homes project, a neighborhood of new construction, net zero homes in Roswell.
Joanne: Thank you for sitting down with me. What made you choose to build in Roswell?
Steven: It was part of our overall 2025 plan, and the Barrington neighborhood was ready for new construction, so we got to work here.
Joanne: What is “Net Zero”?
Steven: Net zero energy is as much energy that is needed to operate the house. That energy is generated onsite with solar arrays and we are generating the same amount of energy that’s needed to run the house. So basically “net zero” means nothing on the meter. You produce as much as you need.
Joanne: What is the main benefit of a net zero home?
Steven: Livability is the biggest benefit. These homes are designed and built to be more energy efficient using better systems and better construction methods. The home is built as a more complete structure with an extremely efficient HVAC. It is better able to control the temperature and humidity coming in to the home. It exceeds all of the code minimums by a large margin. Your HVAC is your biggest energy user. So that’s something that we’re really keen on.
Joanne: So, what does this home have that we all need?
Steven: Cost efficiency is the reason many builders use when they build to code minimums. But in the long run, there are better ways to spend your dollars to build a product that is going to give you a much more comfortable home. Again, the elements that we use to create a better envelope for the house include the HVAC, insulation, and construction techniques save you money over time. The other things people can do in their current homes is add low flow toilets, upgrade to highly rated Energy Saver appliances and even replace their current lightbulbs with energy efficient bulbs.
Joanne: Talk to me a little bit about how you used a designer with this community.
Steven: We actually use energy modeling and an energy designer. We have our architecture team designing the floor plan and the exterior. Then we have a designer work on all the interior finishes. Our buyers will go through a detailed process to curate a specific package for them.
Joanne: What is your favorite room in these homes?
Wynn: I always like the kitchens and the sculleries. With the advent of everyone working from home, you’ve got more people in the kitchen at different times. Some people want an extra sink or dishwasher, some want a wine fridge or an appliance garage.
I also like our FROGS (finished room over garage). They can be more versatile than a finished basement, providing extra guest, work, or workout space.
Joanne: What are you hearing from buyers? What do they like?
Wynn: Our buyers love our new curated design process. We get to know the family and their likes and dislikes and what they need. We ask questions about the music they like, the food they eat, if they like to entertain, etc. We try to get a complete picture of their tastes without overwhelming them. We then create a unique curated package of design choices and materials that fit such as Modern or Timeless Elegance. It is more than a visit to a showroom with basic choices.
Joanne: What are buyers splurging on? Are they being too frugal in some areas?
Wynn: We see buyers upgrading materials in the primary bathroom, such as tile, and we see higher end appliances in the kitchen.
Since we build these homes at such an elite level, there really isn’t a reason to scrimp on anything. If anything, people with basements sometimes choose not to finish every room right away.
Joanne: What have you learned from this process?
Steven: I have been researching net zero homes and techniques for a while but to actually see it in reality is great. There are so many extra things that are done beyond a standard new construction build. For example, window glazing that is required to meet Energy Star standards. Our technical team and energy advisors are here on site to make sure the homes are as efficient as possible. Our goal is the top HERS rating of zero (most efficient). HERS (Home Energy Rating System) is a national standard for demonstrating a home’s energy efficiency. The average home is between 100 and 130.
Also, there is a big debate about building a house too tight. This could lead to moisture build up and mold growth. That is why we install fresh air flow ventilation sized appropriately per cubic feet. Our homes are “healthy homes” for that reason.
Joanne: Is there anything else you’d like to see added to these homes?
Steven: There are strict guidelines from the city of Roswell about water flow calculations and so the footprint of the home, porches, and sidewalks limit the size of the backyard pools that can be installed. As a solution, some buyers are installing smaller splash pools.
Joanne: What is the next Brightwater project after this?
Wynn: “Aster” is coming soon. That is a 24 -home neighborhood off of Cox Road. And then we have the next phase of “Sweet Apple” off of Ebenezer Rd.