Partnering with the Community to Provide an Energy-Efficient Home to a Deserving Family
Photo by David Grinnell
Just one month into Jeremy Stephens’ role as Executive Director for Owensboro/Daviess County Habitat for Humanity, Kay Coomes, Manager of Public Affairs with Atmos Energy, approached him with an exciting partnership idea to build the first ever natural gas powered Zero Net Energy (ZNE) home in Kentucky. Mrs. Coomes shared that while Atmos had partnered with Habitats in two previous states, one home in Colorado, and two in Texas, they had not yet built one in Kentucky. Atmos Energy’s goal is to expand this project to all Atmos’ 8 state coverage area by the end of 2023. Jeremy agreed, and the project came to life.
Jeremy reflected it was “Just blind luck” that connected the project to the home’s recipient, Jamie Sowders. She set an example, raising her 4 children to excel. The oldest will graduate nursing school; the others participate in cheerleading, swim clubs, football, and baseball. Jeremy further described that, “It felt like a divine moment that she was selected. It came together with a lot of faith, hope and prayer because she had put in the two years of budgeting and finance classes, hours of labor, and had even already selected the only property appropriate for a build like this.” Not only is Habitat giving this family a home, but they are also providing them with an affordable, energy-efficient, sustainable home, which will afford Ms. Sowders an opportunity to invest even more in her children’s futures.
Alex Jagoe, Energy Rater with Quantum Raters, explained the program has minimum requirements for insulation in the foundation, walls and ceiling, HVAC, water heater, Energy Star appliances, windows, solar panels, and ventilation system, which brings in air from outside to replace the inside air. There is also no ductwork in the attic, increasing efficiency, as well. All together, these elements will provide the home with a Home Efficiency Rating Score (HERS) of 0 or less. That means, there is a Net Zero Consumption and carbon-neutral home which produces as much energy as the home consumes in a year. The family’s utility costs are predicted to be under $500 annually!
Each contractor expressed appreciation for the strong partnerships. “Jagoe Homes leading the construction was a God-Send because they were already looking into this type of technology even before the project began,” Coomes said. “It takes a team of skills and specialties to achieve this goal,” adds Jagoe, “and since we began Boardwalk Pipelines, Southern Star, OMU, Rinnai, and Driven Solar has joined us on the project.” Many community members have made donations to the project, as well.
Ground-breaking on the home was held June 14, with completion scheduled to occur within 3 to 4 months.
The mission of Habitat for Humanity is: “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.” It is the hope of all that vendors from around the state will be inspired by the build, and learn more about how they may be able to replicate such a unique endeavor.