Article No: 253

2009-04-02 11:27:38
The New American Home 2009
By: Tavaner Bushman

Located on a half-acre lot, the home has around 9,000-square-feet of living space.
photography by John Wagner
Every year The National Association of home builders’ (NAHB) New American Home is an opportunity to demonstrate all the latest developments, concepts, and gadgets in architecture and residential construction. This year developer Blue Heron Living did precisely this. But instead of simply dangling the bait of new innovations, they decided to build a community around the 2009 New American Home and offer the design and cutting-edge technologies used right away. This years New American Home is located in the Marquis, a Las Vegas residential community by Blue Heron featuring 14 lots, which will all eventually feature custom houses built by Blue Heron.

After making it to the far side of the learning curve of building a cutting-edge home, it makes complete sense to share the knowledge and application of that technology as soon as possible. “We have built a whole community around this home. A lot of times these show homes are just a big experiment; builders put all this stuff into it that are futuristic or tomorrow’s technology. But, we actually made a huge effort to build a community around the home and offer all of the technologies immediately. Every last bit of it. We have homes going in here with all of the new technology. It was a learning curve, but now we have figured it all out. It is very popular right now, especially the green building technology. It is something everyone wants to know about,” says Tyler Jones of Blue Heron.

Blue Heron, who was asked to create this years home by the NAHB after Jones’ father’s company built the New American Home in 2004 (the last time it was in Las Vegas), was paired with Danielian Architects for the project. The result, a 9,000-square-foot home on a half-acre lot, was debuted at the NAHB 2009 International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 20-23. The home is very modern in design with clean lines and a cool feel, which is appropriate to its energy efficiency and “greenness,” which is along the lines of most of Blue Heron’s projects. “Everything we do is definitely very contemporary in architectural style. We have a lot of green home building technology and smart home automation technology as well,” says Jones.

Building on what has worked for them in the past, Blue Heron emulated their Stone Canyon project, which won them several awards, but went bigger and better. “We took the same concepts we developed at Stone Canyon and were able to expand upon those. The size of that home was about 3,600 square feet and the lot size was about 6,200 square feet. With this project, at the Marquis, we have half-acre lots and the homes range all the way up to 10,000 square feet. It is kind of an extension of what we had already successfully done in this market on a larger scale,” says Jones.

During the building process to minimize materials and waste, the builder used framing techniques that involve pre-manufactured trusses and floor systems, as well as other building materials that required little, if any, on-site finishing. In addition, suppliers and manufacturers were selected based on wether the materials they provide are made from recycled materials, materials from renewable resources, or with products that could produce with fewer resources than traditional products.
The homes energy-efficiency, which greatly contributed to the homes gold level score under the NAHB National Green Building Program, is a result of a comprehensive design approach as well as cutting-edge, energy-saving technology. In addition to a gas-powered heating and cooling system that is clean-burning and has a SEER rating of 18 manufactured by AISIN, the home features low-E windows, advanced insulation, and vertical and horizontal solar overhangs. As if that was not enough, with the goal of a net-zero level of electrical consumption, a 12k-plus solar panel system was installed.

Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs)  were used  mostly for the basement and structural walls. ICFs provide amazing insulating properties with R-values up to 50. ARXX ICFs were used and are a large part of Blue Heron’s green-building technologies, which they have been building with ever since the 2004 New American Home. “We love ICFs. My dad is building a 25,000-square-foot home right now out of ICFs. We have done several projects out of ICF blocks and my dad’s company is a distributor for ARXX, so we really bought into that concept a long time ago right after we first used it in the 2004 New American Home,” says Jones. For Jones, the energy-efficiency of ICFs is their number-one draw, but building in the Las Vegas area he also appreciates their other attributes: fire protection, mold protection, and the comfortable, quiet feel of a home built out of ICFs.

The home was put together in a quick eight and a half months, providing a great challenge. Jones says, “Even though we had used things we had used before, it was quite a challenge to get it put together that quickly, but still maintain the quality level that we have.” Nothing was compromised by the short schedule. The home won the Silver Award-Category Best Custom Home at The Nationals 2009 and has several other recognitions pending.

When asked about the current housing market in Las Vegas, Jones responds that it is wanting, but, “It is going much better for us than for other people. We have a really unique style and a lot of green building technology that other people are not offering. We have some great locations for our properties as well.” The 2009 New American Home sold immediately upon its grand opening.