April 22 is celebrated as Earth Day in many countries, a time of awareness and appreciation of the planet’s environment. Recent stewardship efforts in the state include “green” housing.
Few if any housing developments in the country are more environmentally sensitive than the new Ridge at Chukker Creek Development in Aiken. Four of the homes are like none other in the nation, possibly in the world, except for one other dwelling which has been retrofitted. The houses are hydrogen-powered, using solar panels on the roofs to charge a fuel cell. Excess energy can be sold back to Aiken Electric Cooperative.
Developer Ron Monahan has also developed properties in the environmentally-trendy Boulder, Colorado, but he says not even Colorado has anything like this.
Monahan says the development will have 300 homes eventually, and there will be 75 energy-efficient homes in its initial phase.
“We’re using native plants. It’s very lush here. We’re using drip irrigation even though there’s plenty of water. We’re heating our pool from hot water panels. We have an equestrian center, and are putting photo-voltaeic panels on that. All our homes have great indoor air quality, no formaldehyde in the cabinets, ” said Monahan, in his Rhode Island accent.
The property isn’t far from the Center for Hydrogen Research at the Savannah River Site, which employees a large number of scientists. The center also has assistance from Clemson and Columbia Universities, so Monahan says he has plenty of help already being offered. Monahan says the Hydrogen Research Center has a strong interest in the development as an example of hydrogen technology in use.
Monahan says the hydrogen home concept just evolved. “I was talking to head of hydrogen research facility, Fred Humes, on some other business. He suggested a hydrogen fuel cell as the next step. We’re fortunate that we have a thousand scientists a few minutes away from us who work at the facility. So we have this resource of experts and we’re using it. And what I’m finding quickly is that it just fits. It’s the next missing piece.”
How much will a hydrogen home cost you? The extra cost is between $20,000 and $40,000 more for a 2,000-square-foot home. But Monahan says the homeowners should expect to save up to $220 per month on utilities, verses $70 extra per month in the home mortgage.