The Future of Housing in America
Carter Scott is building and selling whole neighborhoods of affordable spec homes that produce more energy than they consume.
Synopsis: Carter Scott is dedicated to building houses that don’t contribute to global warming, and he is constantly looking for ways to improve their energy efficiency. He has gotten so good at this that, with state and federal subsidies factored in, he is able to sell his houses for the same price as comparably sized houses that are built to code and that don’t have photovoltaic panels on the roof. As editor at large Kevin Ireton explains in this article, though, Scott is not running a charity; in fact, his company has doubled its revenues every year since 2010. Unlike most production builders, who find what works and stick to it, Scott is constantly experimenting with materials and techniques in an effort to increase energy performance while keeping building costs down. He has reached the point where net-zero energy use is the standard rather than the goal and has set his sights on a new goal: building houses that produce more energy than they consume. A sidebar illustrates how Scott is able to get to net zero by reducing energy use and then adding a robust PV system. See more award-winning homes from the 2013 HOUSES Awards.
On May 30, 2002, the Zoning Board of Appeals in Townsend, Mass., voted unanimously to deny Carter Scott’s application for a housing development at Coppersmith Way. Board members were concerned about wetlands and wildlife on the property. They worried about excess nitrogen from septic systems polluting the town’s water supply. And they didn’t think the town needed any more affordable housing.
Another builder had passed on the land because he thought it would be tough to get five houses on the 30-acre property. Scott filed a plan under the state’s 40b affordable housing laws that called for 41 units, including 35 single-family…