Cherokee Combines Solar Technologies to Produce Home That Generates More Energy than it Uses

Raleigh, N.C. – As part of its efforts to produce the showcase National Homebuilder Mainstream GreenHomeTM in Raleigh, N.C. – the first of its kind known to be built in a traditional suburban neighborhood – Cherokee Investment Partners began installing two solar technologies that work in tandem to produce more energy than the home will ultimately consume.  This is the first application in the country of a system that places solar thermal tubing beneath rigid photovoltaic solar panels to achieve unprecedented levels of solar energy efficiency. 


The system uses solar thermal hot water technology developed by Dawn Solar and a photovoltaic system designed by Atlantis Energy to capture the sun’s energy and turn it into electricity.  The home’s design will result in a uniquely symbiotic relationship that makes the home twice as efficient in solar energy production, and more conventional in appearance, when compared to the typical solar systems on green homes.

“The GreenHome utilizes the first fully integrated solar thermal and photovoltaic systems in the country,” said Jonathan Philips, Senior Director of Cherokee Investment Partners.  “What that means in everyday terms is that when it comes to energy usage this home will have little if any impact on our environment and the excess energy produced can be sold back to the power company.  We are very proud of that.” 

By placing the home’s solar thermal tubing underneath the photovoltaic tile system two advantages are achieved.  First, a solar thermal system typically operates more efficiently the hotter it gets during the day, whereas photovoltaics operate less efficiently in the presence of heat.  In this first-of-its-kind configuration, the solar thermal system absorbs the heat taken-on by the photovoltaic panels which helps both systems operate more efficiently; the home can produce more electricity from the photovoltaic systems and more hot water from the thermal system.  Second, with the photovoltaic tiles designed to blend in with typical roofing shingles and the solar thermal tubing hidden under these tiles, the home eliminates the awkward looking devices associated with solar systems, helping it blend into the neighborhood.

“On an annual basis, the GreenHome’s Dawn Solar thermal system has the ability to harvest over 41 million BTU’s of solar energy for space and water heating – saving the equivalent of 440 gallons of oil or 570 therms of gas each year,” said Bill Poleatewich, Dawn Solar’s President.  When considered over their 40-50 year lifespan, these systems effectively lock in the owner’s energy costs at 20-30% less than what they are paying today.

“In everyday terms, the photovoltaic system on the GreenHome is designed to produce 9.7 kilowatts per hour which is the equivalent of powering 97, 100 watt light bulbs,” said Joe Morrissey, Atlantis Energy’s vice president of sales. “That is more than enough power to supply the average American family’s needs.”

The roofing material compatible for this application was innovated by Elk Corporation.  Elk produces “hybrid” roofing shingles that offer the mainstream look of attractive shingles and manufactured with significantly less petroleum than traditional asphalt shingles.  The shingles utilize cool-roof technology with highly reflective granules to reflect sunlight, minimize heat gain, and effectively reduce the energy needed to cool the home.  The shingles are warranted for sealed attic applications, enabling further energy performance improvements. 

These innovative solar energy generating systems highlight the Mainstream GreenHomeTM mission to showcase innovative, environmentally friendly features, while looking and functioning as a traditional home.  Cherokee expects that the lessons learned from this project will encourage the mainstreaming of sustainable homebuilding practices nationwide.  The Mainstream GreenHomeTM is intended to help reverse the negative stigma sometimes associated with green building and show that environmentally-focused construction is compatible with conventional building and better living.

Cherokee’s GreenHomeTM is the first home in the nation known to be built in a typical subdivision under the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Model Green Home Building Guidelines and is just one of three green homes in the nation known to meet such guidelines. The others are non-subdivision homes located in State College, Pa. and in Albuquerque, N.M.  In addition, the home will be certified with the Environmental Protection Agency/US Department of Energy (EPA/DOE) Energy Star Program and the North Carolina Solar Center’s HealthyBuilt Homes state program, among others.

Conventional in almost every aspect, the GreenHomeTM is designed as an idea home that will showcase a mix of products, systems and techniques that could make sense for individual construction projects or large-scale developments.  As green building becomes more mainstream and is injected into the early design process, costs associated with green building will continue to fall.  In addition, many technologies, such as solar hot water or ground source heat pumps, become more cost effective as centralized systems in larger developments.

Environmental factors are taken into account in every aspect of the home, from landscaping using edible and/or drought tolerant plants to rainwater catchment and reuse systems.  The home utilizes a range of technological innovations to minimize impact on the environment without sacrificing comfort.  As a result, the GreenHomeTM is designed to:

• Use 50% less fossil fuel than the conventional home
• Recycle or reuse 90% of all organic waste on site
• Consume 50% less water than the conventional home
• Recycle 75% of all construction and demolition waste
• Retain 95% of all storm water on site for reuse
• Create wildlife habitats
• Provide exceptional indoor air quality with 95% of all products having low or zero volatile organic compounds

Cherokee’s residential green building goals are much larger than the GreenHomeTM itself.  With its broad scope – having redevelopment projects planned or underway throughout the United States, Canada and Western Europe – Cherokee is uniquely situated to influence from the top-down the ‘greenness’ of  homebuilders, developers, real estate investors and contractors nationwide.

For more information about the Mainstream GreenHomeTM please visit www.MainstreamGreenHome.com.

Cherokee Investment Partners promotes the sustainable redevelopment of brownfield properties through remediation that provides positive social, economic and environmental improvements for the areas they serve.  Since 1993, they have acquired over 520 properties enabling them to clean-up and redeploy contaminated real estate, while protecting sellers, future owners and communities from the risks and liabilities associated with environmental impairment.  Currently Cherokee has over $1 billion worth of property under its management. 

More information about Cherokee Investment Partners can be found at www.cherokeefund.com