There’s No Place Like Home – EcoVillage Dunedin, Affordable Net Zero Energy Homes

[MUSIC] >>Jane: WELCOME TO "THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME," THE RADIO SHOW COMING TO YOU ON WRXB 1590 AM AND PINELLAS COUNTY CONNECTION TV. THIS PROGRAM IS PRESENTED TO YOU AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR INFORMATION THAT CAN HELP YOU FULFILL THE DREAM OF OWNING YOUR VERY OWN HOME. WE ALSO SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT UPCOMING SPECIAL EVENTS AND PROGRAMS TO HELP YOU ENJOY THE GOOD LIFE IN PINELLAS COUNTY AS WELL AS OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST. THE SPONSOR OF THIS PROGRAM IS THE HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY OF PINELLAS COUNTY, WHICH OFFERS THE FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS PROGRAM, "YOUR KEY TO HOMEOWNERSHIP," HELPING PEOPLE IN PINELLAS, PASCO, AND POLK COUNTIES MAKE THEIR DREAMS OF HOMEOWNERSHIP A REALITY. I'M JANE MUHRLIN ALONGSIDE FRANK BOWMAN, YOUR HOSTS FOR TODAY'S SHOW. FRANK, HOW ARE YOU TODAY? >>Frank: I'M DOING VERY WELL, JANE. HOW ABOUT YOURSELF? >>Jane: I AM ALSO DOING QUITE WELL AND VERY INTERESTED IN TODAY'S TOPIC. >>Frank: WELL, YES, WE HAVE A VERY INTERESTING SHOW TODAY. WE'RE GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT A NEW AND VERY EXCITING EcoVillage COMMUNITY IN DUNEDIN.

IN A FEW MINUTES, WE WILL INTRODUCE OUR SPECIAL GUESTS WHO WILL PROVIDE US WITH AN OVERVIEW OF THE PROJECT AND HOW FOLKS CAN GET MORE INFORMATION. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PEN AND PAPER READY BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING TO BE VERY INTERESTED IN THIS INFORMATION. HOWEVER, BEFORE WE GET INTO TODAY'S TOPIC, JANE, I KNOW YOU HAVE A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR, THE HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY OF PINELLAS COUNTY. >>Jane: YES, I DO. THANK YOU, FRANK. THE FHA IS OFFERING ITS FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER PROGRAM FOR INDIVIDUALS IN PINELLAS, PASCO, AND POLK COUNTIES, WHO HAVE NEVER OWNED A HOME, HAVE NOT OWNED A HOME IN THE LAST THREE YEARS, OR VETERANS. THE HFA OFFERS A LOW RATE ON ITS 30-YEAR FIXED-RATE MORTGAGE. AND IF YOU NEED A LITTLE HELP WITH DOWN PAYMENT AND CLOSING COSTS, THEY CAN HELP YOU WITH THAT ALSO WITH THE HOME KEY SECOND MORTGAGE, WHICH IS ALSO AVAILABLE IN PINELLAS, PASCO, AND POLK COUNTIES.

TO GET YOUR KEY TO HOMEOWNERSHIP, CALL 727-464-8210 OR VISIT THE WEB SITE AT PinellasCounty.org/ Community/HFA. AND, BY THE WAY, TO REACH US FOR MORE INFORMATION OR COMMENTS ABOUT THE SHOW, YOU CAN CALL US AT THE SAME NUMBER, 727-464-8210, OR E-MAIL US AT HOUSINGFINANCEAUTHORITY@ PINELLASCOUNTY.ORG. AND REMEMBER, YOU CAN ALSO CATCH PAST SHOWS BY LOGGING ON TO THE WEB SITE, AND YOU CAN EVEN WATCH US ON YouTube. FRANK? >>Frank: WELL, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, JANE. WELL, RIGHT NOW IT'S MY PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE OUR GUESTS WHO ARE WORKING TO DEVELOP A NEW, EXCITING COMMUNITY THAT THEY ARE CALLING EcoVillage DUNEDIN. JOINING US ARE CHUCK BURKETT, WHO'S THE PRESIDENT, AND PAAVO SALMI, WHO IS THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER WITH PLANET GREEN GROUP. WELCOME TO "THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME," CHUCK, PAAVO. >>Chuck Burkett: THANK YOU, GUYS. WE APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE HERE TO SHARE SOME EXCITEMENT. >>Frank: WELL, WE DO AGREE THAT IT IS A REALLY EXCITING NEW PROJECT. LET'S START BY HAVING YOU EXPLAIN WHO PLANET GREEN IS. >>Paavo Salmi: WELL, SOME THREE, FOUR YEARS AGO WE STARTED THIS COMPANY WITH A VISION THAT WE COULD KIND OF CHANGE THE WAY THAT HOMES ARE BUILT, AND ESPECIALLY WE THOUGHT ABOUT THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING SECTOR AND HOW IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO BUILD HIGH PERFORMANCE, NET-ZERO ENERGY HOMES AS THE NEED FOR THAT KIND OF PRODUCT THAT'S BECOME MORE AND MORE IMPORTANT AS WE ARE FACING THESE RISING ENERGY COSTS AS WELL AS SOME OTHER CHALLENGES WITH THE ECONOMY.

SO WE STARTED LOOKING AT, YOU KNOW, THE DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF HOME CONSTRUCTION FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF TWO GUYS WHO HAVE VERY LITTLE EXPERIENCE IN HOME CONSTRUCTION BUT WITH A VERY BIG SUPPORTIVE TEAM BEHIND US. SO WE STARTED DEVELOPING A CONCEPT AND RESEARCHING AND STUDYING THE DIFFERENT ELEMENTS OF THE HOMES. AND ALSO, AT THE SAME TIME, REALIZE THAT LUCKILY FOR US, THE CERTAIN ELEMENTS OF THE HOMES, YOU KNOW, AS THE TECHNOLOGY IS ADVANCING, THE COST OF THE ELEMENTS ARE DECREASING AS WE ARE DEVELOPING THE CONCEPT. SO, THEREFORE, DURING THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, AS WE ENTERED INTO THE RFP PROCESS WITH THE PINELLAS COUNTY HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY AND ALSO WITH THE CITY OF DUNEDIN REGARDING THE PROJECT IN DUNEDIN, WE SUBMITTED THE APPLICATION, AND WE'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO GET THE PROJECT. ONE OF THE KEY ELEMENTS IN THIS PROJECT HAS BEEN FOR US TO CONCENTRATE ON CERTAIN KEY ELEMENTS OF THE HOMES.

AND WE'LL TALK ABOUT THOSE IN A LITTLE BIT MORE DETAIL. BUT THAT'S KIND OF IN A NUTSHELL WHAT PLANET GREEN GROUP IS AND WHERE WE CAME FROM DURING THE LAST THREE OR FOUR YEARS. >>Frank: SO YOU'RE GOING TO BE A DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION THAT SPECIALIZES IN DEVELOPING NET ZERO ENERGY AND GREEN CERTIFIED HOUSING. >>Paavo Salmi: THAT'S CORRECT. >>Frank: AND, OF COURSE, AS WE'LL DISCUSS, THIS HAS LENT ITSELF VERY WELL TO THE PRODUCTION OF NEW AFFORDABLE HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES. NOW, THE PROJECT IN DUNEDIN, GIVE US A LITTLE BACKGROUND. YOU'VE ALREADY MENTIONED THE FACT THAT THERE WAS AN RFP THAT WAS PUT OUT BY THE HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY. I GUESS SINCE WE'RE WITH THE HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY, WE CAN SHARE SOME OF THAT. THIS WAS LAND THAT WAS DONATED BY THE DUNEDIN HOUSING AUTHORITY, AND IT WAS PRESENTED AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO REDEVELOP THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN DUNEDIN, WHICH IS JUST NORTH OF SKINNER ROAD UP THERE. AND THIS IS IN ONE OF THEIR TRADITIONALLY LOWER INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS. THE OLD HOUSING AUTHORITY PROPERTY WAS THERE AND WAS TAKEN OFF-LINE BY THE HOUSING AUTHORITY.

AND THEY PROVIDED THE LAND FOR FREE. SO YOU FOLKS SUBMITTED AN APPLICATION, AND YOUR PROPOSAL WAS, BY FAR, THE BEST THAT WE SAW. WHAT'S YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THE LOCATION OF THE PROJECT AND THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND WHAT YOU'RE HOPING TO ACCOMPLISH THERE? >>Chuck Burkett: WELL, WE'RE HOPING TO BE ABLE TO PROVIDE — RIGHT NOW, OUR PLAN IS TO PROVIDE 25 TOWNHOMES. THESE TOWNHOMES — THE LOCATION, IF YOU CAN VISUALIZE IT, IS VERY CLOSE TO DOWNTOWN. IT'S WALKING DISTANCE TO DOWNTOWN DUNEDIN. IT'S RIGHT NEAR THE PINELLAS TRAIL. IT'S BORDERED BY MARTIN LUTHER KING. LIKE YOU SAID, NORTH OF SKINNER, MARTIN LUTHER KING, DOUGLAS ON THE WEST SIDE, LORRAINE LELAND DRIVE ON THE NORTH, AND JACKSON ON THE SOUTH, AND WE'LL BE CONSTRUCTING 25 TOWNHOMES. AND WHAT IS EXCITING, THESE TOWNHOMES ARE GOING TO BE VERY AFFORDABLE TO BUY AND AFFORDABLE TO OWN ON AN ONGOING BASIS.

THEY HAVE SOME VERY UNIQUE FEATURES, WHICH WE'LL DISCUSS WITH YOU. THE EXCITING THING FOR US IS, THIS IS REALLY THE FIRST AFFORDABLE MULTIFAMILY TOWNHOME PROJECT IN THE NATION TODAY. IT'S BEING DONE RIGHT HERE IN OUR BACKYARD, IN DUNEDIN. DUNEDIN IS NOTED AS A GREEN COMMUNITY HERE IN PINELLAS COUNTY, AND WE ARE SO EXCITED TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH IT, BECAUSE WE THINK WHEN THE PUBLIC FINDS OUT WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE, WE'RE GOING TO CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK, THE WAY WE ARE GOING TO CONSTRUCT THESE TOWNHOMES. AND WHEN PEOPLE SEE THE END PRODUCT, WE THINK IT'S GOING TO SET THE STANDARD FOR HOW AFFORDABLE LIVING CAN BE REALIZED ACROSS THE COUNTRY. >>Paavo Salmi: THERE'S ONE ELEMENT THAT WE SPECIFICALLY, YOU KNOW, HAVE TO STRUGGLE WITH STARTING OUT WITH THIS PROJECT, AND THAT'S THE PERCEPTION. YOU KNOW, THE PERCEPTION OF HIGH PERFORMANCE AND ENERGY EFFICIENT LIVING HAS ALWAYS BEEN VERY EXPENSIVE. THAT WAS ONE OF THE MAIN CHALLENGES WE HAD TO OVERCOME, NOT ONLY IN STRUCTURING AND ENGINEERING THE HOMES, BUT ALSO IN CHANGING THE PEOPLE'S PERCEPTION THAT THIS ACTUALLY CAN BE DONE, EVEN AT THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING LEVEL.

>>Jane: WELL, AND CERTAINLY, I THINK THIS IS REALLY GOING TO BE A GREAT MODEL, NOT ONLY FOR OUR AREA, BUT FOR THE COUNTRY, AS YOU MENTIONED, CHUCK. I MEAN, THIS IS THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN THE NATION AND CERTAINLY GETTING SOME NATIONAL ATTENTION, TOO, ISN'T IT? >>Chuck Burkett: IT'S TRULY EXCITING. IT'S TRULY DIFFERENT. IT'S TRULY OUT-OF-THE-BOX THINKING. IT'S GOING TO SHAKE UP, IN MY OPINION, THE INDUSTRY AS WE KNOW IT TODAY. IT'S NOT BEING BUILT SAME OLD, SAME OLD WAY. SO I THINK WE'RE ALL GOING TO SHARE IN SOMETHING VERY, VERY SPECIAL VERY SOON. >>Frank: SO WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT — AND PAAVO, I TOTALLY AGREE. IN THE PAST, ANYTIME SOMEBODY HAS TALKED ABOUT BUILDING A CERTIFIED GREEN BUILDING, THEY'VE ALWAYS ADDED ON SIGNIFICANT ADDITIONAL COST. AND YOUR CONCEPTS AND YOUR PLANS HAVE ESSENTIALLY ADDRESSED THAT PROBLEM OR CONCERN AND BROUGHT THOSE DOWN TO AFFORDABLE RATES.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE FEATURES OF THIS HOUSE THAT NOT ONLY MAKE IT AFFORDABLE ON THE FRONT END BUT WILL MAKE IT AFFORDABLE FOR THE LONG TERM IN TERMS OF OPERATING EXPENSES AND THINGS LIKE THAT? >>Chuck Burkett: WELL, I THINK WE'LL ADDRESS THAT IN SOME DETAIL IN A MINUTE. BUT THE BROAD OVERALL BRUSH IS, THEY ARE NOT MORE EXPENSIVE THAN A NORMAL HOME, BUT THEY CERTAINLY ARE LESS EXPENSIVE TO OWN ON AN ONGOING BASIS. THINK ABOUT IT. THESE HOMES ACTUALLY WILL PRODUCE MORE ENERGY THAN THEY CONSUME ON A YEARLY BASIS. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO THE HOMEOWNER? HE, BASICALLY, ON AN ANNUAL BASIS, THE HOMEOWNER WILL NEVER HAVE AN ELECTRIC BILL. THEIR ELECTRIC COST WILL BE ZERO. NOW, YOU THINK ABOUT THAT, THAT'S PRETTY SPECIAL, PARTICULARLY IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING WHERE EVERY DOLLAR REALLY COUNTS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO RESIDE THERE. I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I'D LOVE TO HAVE NO ELECTRIC BILL.

AND SO THAT'S WHAT ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT FACTORS. IN ADDITION, THESE HOMES ARE SUSTAINABLE, SO THERE'S A LOW COST OF CONTINUING OWNERSHIP THAT'S ASSOCIATED WITH IT. THEY ARE VERY HEALTHY, AND THEY ARE VERY ENERGY EFFICIENT. BUT, PAAVO, IF YOU COULD ADDRESS THE SUSTAINABILITY AND THE HEALTHY LIVING ASPECTS. >>Paavo Salmi: SURE. SOME OF THE KEY ELEMENTS FOR US IS THE HEALTHY LIVING, FOR EXAMPLE. YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU USE NO VOC PAINTS, NONTOXIC FLOORING, YOU KNOW, THOSE KIND OF ELEMENTS IN ADDITION TO THE EFFICIENT WATER MANAGEMENT WITH DUAL-FLUSH TOILETS AND LOW-FLOW SHOWERHEADS, ET CETERA. BUT ALSO, THE WHOLE CONCEPT BEGINS WITH A WHOLE-HOUSE SYSTEM APPROACH AT THE BEGINNING WHEN YOU DO THE ENGINEERING AND DESIGN OF THE HOMES. WE HAVE ON OUR TEAM SOME OF THE LEADING PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRY IN THAT REGARD THAT ARE WORKING WITH US IN MAKING SURE THAT EVERY SINGLE ELEMENT OF THE HOME ACTUALLY WORKS WITH THE OTHER ELEMENTS OF THE HOME. AND, THEREFORE, WHEN YOU DO THE PROPER DESIGN AND ENGINEERING, IT ACTUALLY BECOMES VALUE ENGINEERING WHERE YOU CAN MAKE SAVINGS IN ONE AREA IF YOU HAVE TO SPEND A LITTLE BIT MORE MONEY IN ANOTHER. A GOOD EXAMPLE OF THAT IS, FOR EXAMPLE, THE HVAC SYSTEMS ARE MUCH SMALLER IN THESE UNITS BECAUSE THEY ARE SO WELL BUILT AND THE BUILDING ENVELOPE IS SO TIGHT THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TO SPEND AS MUCH MONEY ON THE HVAC SYSTEM AS YOU WOULD FOR A REGULARLY BUILT HOME.

>>Frank: AND THAT APPLIES TO THE UP-FRONT COST OF THE ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT, BUT ALSO THEN THE MONTHLY COST FOR OPERATING THAT EQUIPMENT IS REDUCED AS WELL. >>Paavo Salmi: ABSOLUTELY. >>Frank: SO WE KEEP SAYING ENERGY EFFICIENT, THEY HAVE A VERY HIGH R-VALUE. THEY ARE VERY WELL INSULATED. WHAT IS THE BUILDING SYSTEM YOU ARE GOING TO BE USING? >>Paavo Salmi: WELL, WE ARE ACTUALLY — THE BUILDING ENVELOPE CONSISTS OF, OF COURSE, THE WALL SYSTEM, AND THEN YOU HAVE THE ROOFING SYSTEM AND THE WINDOWS AND THE DOORS. AND THAT'S KIND OF THE MAIN ELEMENTS OF YOUR BUILDING ENVELOPE THAT PROVIDES YOU WITH THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY THAT YOU HAVE TO START OUT WITH. AND WE ARE ALWAYS AIMING AT THE LOW 50s HERS RATING FOR THE BUILDING ENVELOPE. THEN WITH THE RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGY, WE'LL TAKE THAT TO ZERO, WHICH MEANS WE'LL ADD, IN THIS CASE, SOLAR SYSTEM FOR EACH UNIT SO THEY PRODUCE, LIKE CHUCK MENTIONED BEFORE, AS MUCH OR MORE ENERGY ON THE ANNUAL BASIS THAN THE ACTUAL UNIT REQUIRES.

NOW, AS FAR AS THE AFFORDABILITY IS CONCERNED, AGAIN, WHEN YOU SAY SOMETHING LIKE SOLAR, THE FIRST THING YOU THINK ABOUT IS THE ELECTRIC CAR. THAT'S GOING TO COST A LOT OF MONEY TO HAVE THAT KIND OF TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE TO YOU. WELL, LUCKILY NOWADAYS, THE SOLAR COSTS HAVE COME DOWN TREMENDOUS IN THE LAST TWO OR THREE YEARS. AT THE SAME TIME, WE ALSO GET THE TAX CREDIT FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TOWARDS YOUR SOLAR SYSTEM, WHICH IS 30% OF THE PURCHASE VALUE OF THE SYSTEM, WHICH MAKES IT EXTREMELY AFFORDABLE. SO THE INCREMENTAL ADDITIONAL COST TO THE HOME TO PUT THE SOLAR SYSTEM ON IT IS VERY MINIMAL. >>Jane: AND I THINK IT'S INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT WHEN WE HAD THE INITIAL GROUND BREAKING AT THE SITE, THERE WERE EVEN GENERATORS THAT WERE OPERATED BY A SOLAR SYSTEM. TELL US ABOUT THAT. >>Paavo Salmi: YEAH, IT'S ONE OF THOSE NEAT FEATURES WHERE SOMETIMES WHEN YOU GO TO DIFFERENT LOCATIONS, YOU HAVE A TOUGH TIME GETTING POWER THERE, THERE IS A TRAILER THAT'S LOADED WITH BIG PANELS, AND THEY ACTUALLY POWER THE GENERATOR, WHICH PROVIDES THE ELECTRICITY FOR YOUR SOUND SYSTEMS AND THOSE KINDS OF THINGS THAT'S REQUIRED.

AND WHENEVER YOU ARE IN THE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT ARENA, YOU A LOT OF TIMES END UP IN LOTS OR PARCELS WHERE THERE'S NO POWER AVAILABLE. SO IT'S NOT ONLY DEMONSTRATING THE TECHNOLOGY, BUT IT ALSO BECOMES VERY PRACTICAL. >>Chuck Burkett: EVEN THE STREETLIGHTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE PROJECT WILL BE SOLAR DRIVEN. SO THE HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION WILL NOT HAVE A BILL FOR POWERING THE STREETLIGHTS. I'LL TELL YA, WE'RE LIVING IN A NEW CENTURY. WE SHOULD USE WHAT GOD GAVE US, SUCH AS POWERING OUR HOMES. THIS IS THE WAY IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE FOR A LONG TIME. >>Jane: WELL, IT'S A FASCINATING PROJECT. EVERYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH IT IS JUST, TO ME, PHENOMENAL. AND YOU MENTIONED EARLIER ABOUT IT BEING A HEALTHY HOME. AND I KNOW THAT IT'S CURRENTLY IN THE DISCUSSION STAGES, BUT ADDING TO THE HEALTHINESS OF THE COMMUNITY, I KNOW THAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT DOING SOMETHING THAT'S NEAR AND DEAR TO OUR HEART, AND THAT'S A COMMUNITY GARDEN.

>>Chuck Burkett: WELL, YOU STOLE MY THUNDER. YES, WE ARE. AND WE HOPE — WE'RE PLANNING TO DEVELOP A COMMUNITY GARDEN THAT THE RESIDENTS WILL BE ABLE TO PARTAKE IN TO GROW THEIR OWN PRODUCE AND MAYBE MARKET THEIR OWN PRODUCE. I MEAN, MY GOODNESS, WHAT DO WE SPEND THERE? IF YOU CAN GO AHEAD AND ORGANIZE THAT, THEN PEOPLE CAN HAVE THAT AS AN ADDITIONAL SAVINGS FOR LIVING IN EcoVillage. WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT IT, AS YOU KNOW, BECAUSE YOU'VE BEEN AT THE MEETINGS. WE'RE EVEN GOING TO HAVE SOLAR WHICH WILL DRIVE THE PUMPS WHICH WILL GET THE WATER OUT OF THE WELL TO IRRIGATE THESE. WE'RE TRYING TO THINK EVERYTHING WE CAN TO MAKE THIS AS ECO-FRIENDLY COMMUNITY AS POSSIBLY CAN BE MADE. WE THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A SHOW PLACE. THE NATION IS GOING TO LOOK AND SAY, WOW, LOOK WHAT THEY DID RIGHT HERE IN DUNEDIN. >>Frank: AND YOU MENTIONED EARLIER THAT, OF COURSE, THE CITY HAS GOTTEN SEVERAL AWARDS FOR BEING A GREEN CITY.

YOU MUST BE GETTING A VERY POSITIVE REACTION FROM THE CITY LEADERS AND ADMINISTRATORS UP THERE. >>Paavo Salmi: ABSOLUTELY. WE COULDN'T THANK THEM ENOUGH ABOUT THE SUPPORT AND EVERYTHING ELSE DURING THIS PROCESS. IT HAS BEEN A LONG ROAD AND THERE HAVE BEEN SOME CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY, BUT THE SUPPORT THAT WE HAVE RECEIVED IN THAT REGARD HAS BEEN VERY — EXCELLENT, SPECTACULAR. >>Chuck Burkett: I THINK ONE OF THE UNIQUE FEATURES OF THIS WHOLE PROJECT IS THE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP THAT EVOLVED. IT EVOLVED FROM YOU GUYS AT THE HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY, THE CITY OF DUNEDIN, AND US BEING THE PRIVATE SECTOR CAME AND GOT TOGETHER AND ADDRESSED SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL, AND WE COLLECTIVELY HAVE HAD A LOT OF CHALLENGES OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS, BUT TOGETHER, WE WORK TOGETHER. I THINK WE'LL ALL LOOK BACK ON THIS VERY FAVORABLY AND VERY POSITIVE.

THERE HAVE BEEN SOME ROUGH ROADS ALONG THE WAY, BUT I THINK EVERY ONE OF US CAN LOOK AND BE PROUD OF WHAT WE'VE ACCOMPLISHED TOGETHER. AND I THINK THIS ALSO SETS A STANDARD FOR THE FUTURE IN COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY WHERE EVERY COMMUNITY NEEDS AFFORDABLE HOUSING. EVERY COMMUNITY HAS GOT PROBLEMS WITH DEVELOPING AFFORDABLE HOUSING. EVERY COMMUNITY PROBABLY HAS LAND AVAILABLE IN TODAY'S MARKET. WE THINK PEOPLE ARE GOING TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE DUNEDIN PROJECT, WOW, WHY CAN'T WE DO THIS IN OUR COMMUNITY? AND WE'VE GOT THE BLUEPRINT NOW. WHAT WE'VE GONE THROUGH OVER THE PAST, WE'VE GOT THE EXPERIENCE AND THE KNOW-HOW NOW TO CARRY THIS INTO OTHER COMMUNITIES ALONG THE WAY ACROSS THE STATE AND REALLY ACROSS THE NATION. IT'S A BIG OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERYBODY. >>Jane: WELL, YOU KNOW, ONCE WORD GETS OUT, I KNOW THAT WORD HAS ALREADY GOTTEN OUT, BECAUSE YOU'VE BEEN TALKING TO SOME FOLKS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY ABOUT THIS NEW DEVELOPMENT. ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE ENOUGH UNITS TO MEET THE DEMAND? BECAUSE I WOULD THINK THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE GOING CRAZY OVER TRYING TO GET ONE OF THESE UNITS.

>>Chuck Burkett: THE EASY ANSWER IS NO. THAT'S NOT A HARD ONE TO ANSWER. WE'VE HAD TREMENDOUS RESPONSE FROM THE COMMUNITY, AND WE'LL BE OVERSOLD BEFORE WE BREAK GROUND. THERE'S GOING TO BE SOME DISAPPOINTED PEOPLE, BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE SAYING I WANT — YOU KNOW, AM I TOO LATE? SO I WOULD SAY WE'LL PROBABLY HAVE THREE TIMES THE PEOPLE WE'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO PUT IN THESE 25 UNITS WHEN PEOPLE START MOVING IN. SO THERE'S A TREMENDOUS DEMAND, TREMENDOUS BACKUP. >>Jane: AND WHAT KIND OF PRICES ARE WE LOOKING AT FOR THESE UNITS? I'M SURE THEY'LL BE A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT BASED ON THE SIZE OF THE UNIT. >>Chuck Burkett: THERE ARE THREE SIZES. A TWO-BEDROOM, TWO-BATH UNIT. AND THERE ARE FOUR TWO-BEDROOM, THREE-BATH UNITS IN ONE BUILDING.

SO FIVE UNITS IN A BUILDING. FIVE BUILDINGS IS 25 UNITS. THEY RANGE FROM ABOUT A LITTLE OVER 1100 SQUARE FEET ON THE SMALLEST TWO-BEDROOM UNIT TO 1500 SQUARE FEET ON THE END UNITS, THE BIGGER ONES. AND RIGHT NOW, WE'RE FIRMING UP OUR PRICING BECAUSE NOW WE'RE STARTING TO GET ALL OF OUR QUOTES IN AND FINALIZING IT, BUT WE ARE HOPING TO BE ABLE TO HOLD WHAT WE ORIGINALLY ESTIMATED, SOMEWHERE, 140 TO 180 THOUSAND. BUT THE KEY TO THIS IS, SOMEBODY SAID, WELL, THAT'S NOT AFFORDABLE. WELL, IT IS AFFORDABLE. AND PAAVO SHOULD ADDRESS THAT WITH YOU RIGHT NOW AS TO WHY THESE HOMES ARE SO AFFORDABLE. >>Paavo Salmi: ONE OF THE KEY ELEMENTS WHEN YOU ARE IN THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING ARENA, NUMBER ONE, AS WE STARTED THIS PROJECT, WE KNEW THAT WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO SELL FIVE OF THESE HOMES FOR FAMILIES OR PEOPLE WITH LESS THAN 80% OF THE MEDIAN INCOME HERE IN THE COUNTY. AND THAT WAS THE VERY STARTING POINT.

AND WHEN YOU LOOK AT THAT, YOU KNOW, IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THESE MONTHLY PAYMENTS. REALLY, IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, A LOT OF US ARE LOOKING AT OUR MONTHLY BUDGET AND SAYING, OKAY, HOW MUCH MONEY CAN WE AFFORD FOR THE HOUSING IN ADDITION TO CAR PAYMENTS, INSURANCE, FOOD, ET CETERA? SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT THESE HOMES AND YOU ARE, OF COURSE, DEPENDING ON THE INTEREST RATES THAT HAVE BEEN CLIMBING A LITTLE BIT SINCE SIX MONTHS AGO EVEN, YOU'RE LOOKING AT HOMES WHERE YOU CAN MOVE INTO A HIGH-PERFORMANCE, NET-ZERO ENERGY TOWNHOME, A FIRST OF ITS KIND, REALLY, FOR SEVEN, EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS A MONTH, IT REALLY OPENS YOUR EYES FROM THE PERSPECTIVE WHERE YOU SAY, WOW, WHAT CAN YOU RENT IN THE SAME AREAS IF YOU WERE TO LOOK FOR YOUR HOUSING? SO, THEREFORE, WE LOOK AT IT FROM NOT ONLY THE PURCHASE PERSPECTIVE, BUT ALSO FROM THE FACT THAT THE MONTHLY ONGOING COST WHEN YOU SAVE HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS ON YOUR ENERGY BILLS AND OTHER WATER EFFICIENCIES AND INSURANCE COST, ET CETERA, IT BECOMES EXTREMELY AFFORDABLE, NOT TO FORGET THE TAX CREDIT THAT YOU GET DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR A SOLAR SYSTEM, WHICH TREMENDOUSLY CAN OFFSET YOUR DOWN PAYMENT REQUIREMENTS IN THE FIRST YEAR.

>>Frank: AND EACH OF THESE UNITS IS GOING TO COME WITH A GARAGE AS WELL. >>Paavo Salmi: THAT'S CORRECT. EVERY ONE OF THEM HAVE A ONE-CAR GARAGE, AND WE ARE LOOKING INTO RIGHT NOW THE POSSIBILITY THAT PERHAPS SOME UNITS EVEN HAVING TWO-CAR GARAGES, BUT IT IS THE DESIGN STAGE. >>Chuck Burkett: LARGER UNITS, THE END UNITS, WE'D LIKE TO BE ABLE TO OFFER TWO-CAR GARAGES, BECAUSE WE THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT. EACH UNIT WILL HAVE A PATIO BETWEEN THE GARAGE. GARAGE IS DETACHED. BETWEEN THE GARAGE AND THE HOME, THERE WILL BE A NICE PATIO AREA THAT THEY CAN PUT THEIR BARBEQUE OR DO WHATEVER THEY WANT TO DO OUT IN THE PATIO. IT'S GOING TO BE A VERY, VERY NICE COMMUNITY. >>Frank: AND THIS WILL BE STRUCTURED UNDER A HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, SO YOU'RE ESSENTIALLY GOING TO BE BRINGING TOGETHER A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WHO RECOGNIZE THE BENEFIT OF LIVING IN A GREEN ENERGY EFFICIENT HOME. IT SHOULD BE QUITE A COMMUNITY THERE THAT RUNS A REALLY EXCITING COMMUNITY GARDEN.

I MEAN, THOSE ARE GOING TO BE — ARE YOU GOING TO BE EXTENDING THAT GARDEN OPPORTUNITY TO THE GENERAL COMMUNITY THERE? >>Chuck Burkett: WE WOULD LIKE TO. WE'VE SPOKEN TO THE LOCAL CHURCH THAT'S ADJACENT TO THE PROPERTY, AND THEY ARE ALL IN FOR THAT. WE'VE GOT TO FIND OUT HOW MUCH SPACE WE'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO HAVE FOR THE COMMUNITY GARDEN. WE'RE GOING TO IDENTIFY THAT. WE'VE ALREADY STARTED WITH THE WORKING COMMITTEE. INTERESTING, ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO MADE A RESERVATION TO PURCHASE A UNIT EARLY ON RAISED A QUESTION, CAN WE PUT A COMMUNITY GARDEN IN HERE? AND IT WASN'T UNTIL A FEW MONTHS LATER THAT WE BEGAN TO ADDRESS THE COMMUNITY GARDEN. BUT HERE YOU'VE ALREADY GOT SOMEBODY — BY THE WAY, SHE'S CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE. SHE DOESN'T KNOW IT YET.

>>Jane: OH, SHE DOESN'T KNOW THAT YET. >>Chuck Burkett: SHE DOESN'T KNOW IT YET, BUT WE'LL MAKE HER CHAIRMAN. SHE VOLUNTEERED. IT'S LIKE WHEN YOU'RE IN THE MARINE CORPS, OR SOMEWHERE WHERE I WAS, YOU DARESN'T VOLUNTEER BECAUSE — [ LAUGHTER ] >>Frank: WELL, YOU MENTIONED, OF COURSE, THE ENERGY SAVINGS AND UTILITY COSTS ARE GOING TO BE A SAVINGS, BUT THE TYPE OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY THAT YOU ACHIEVE WITH YOUR BUILDING SYSTEM ALSO IS VERY HURRICANE-PROOF AND MAINTENANCE RESISTANT OR MAINTENANCE — IT DOESN'T REQUIRE A LOT OF MAINTENANCE. QUICKLY TELL US SOME OF THOSE COMPONENTS ABOUT THE DURABILITY OF THE WALLS AND WHAT YOU ANTICIPATE INSURANCE COSTS ARE GOING TO BE. >>Paavo Salmi: RIGHT NOW WE'RE LOOKING AT, AS CHUCK MENTIONED, WE FINALIZED THE FINAL FEATURES OF THE HOME, BUT WE'RE LOOKING AT USING A ROOF SYSTEM THAT ELIMINATES THE REPLACEMENT OF THE ROOF EVERY 10, 15 YEARS.

WE'RE LOOKING AT FINISHING THE EXTERIOR WALLS WHICH MINIMIZES THE NEED FOR PAINTING THE WALLS EVERY FIVE, SEVEN YEARS. AND ALSO, WE'RE LOOKING AT THE WALL SYSTEM BEING STRONG WHERE WE CAN APPLY FOR THE FORTIFICATION PROCESS WHERE YOU CAN OBTAIN SUBSTANTIAL INSURANCE SAVINGS FOR THE HOMEOWNER. RIGHT NOW, NOT ONLY LOOKING AT THE SYSTEMS THEMSELVES, BUT ALSO TALKING WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANIES, ALREADY REALIZING WHAT WE'RE DOING, THAT WE'RE EXACTLY ON THE RIGHT TRACK. IN ADDITION, I QUICKLY WANT TO MENTION ONE MORE THING THAT'S ABSOLUTELY A KEY ELEMENT TO THIS PROJECT. IT'S OUR PARTNERSHIPS WITH SOME OF THE BIG NAMES IN THIS COUNTRY REGARDING THE CONSTRUCTION AND THE HOME APPLIANCES. WE TEAMED UP WITH GE. AND THEY HAVE A PROGRAM CALLED ECOMAGINATION. ECOMAGINATION IS A PROGRAM WHERE ANYTHING TO DO WITH SUSTAINABLE LIVING OR SUSTAINABILITY ITSELF FALLS UNDER THE GE PROGRAM. AND THAT CAN BE FROM POWER GENERATORS TO HOME APPLIANCES.

WE ARE THE VERY FIRST NET ZERO ENERGY AFFORDABLE HOUSING GE ECOMAGINATION PROJECT IN THE WORLD. AND THEY ARE EXTREMELY EXCITED. THEY CAME DOWN TO THE GROUNDBREAKING FROM KENTUCKY AND ACTUALLY DID A LITTLE SPEECH FOR US AS WELL. SO THEY ARE OUR KEY PARTNER. IN ADDITION TO THAT, WE TEAMED UP WITH MASCO, WHICH IS AN EXTREMELY LARGE CORPORATION PROVIDING HOME CONSTRUCTION ELEMENTS, ANYTHING FROM PAINTS TO FAUCETS, ET CETERA, BUT THEY ALSO PROVIDE A SERVICE WHERE THEY CERTIFY YOUR HOME. SO EVERY ONE OF THESE HOMES WILL BE CERTIFIED BY A THIRD PARTY TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE ACTUALLY ACHIEVED A QUALITY THAT WE CLAIM TO ACHIEVE AT THE BEGINNING. IN ADDITION TO THE THIRD-PARTY CERTIFICATION, THESE HOMES ACTUALLY ARE NET-ZERO ENERGY HOMES. SO THOSE PARTNERSHIPS AND CERTIFICATIONS NOT ONLY PROVIDES GREAT CREDIBILITY FOR THE PROJECT, BUT ALSO SPEAKS FOR THE QUALITY THAT THESE HOMES WILL BE AND ASSURING THE HOMEOWNER THAT THEY ARE GOING TO GET EXACTLY WHAT THEY WERE PROMISED. >>Frank: WELL, THAT'S REALLY EXCITING.

IN A MINUTE, CAN YOU — BECAUSE YOU'VE DONE ANOTHER REALLY EXCITING THING WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS COMMUNITY, AND THAT'S YOUR PLANNED CONTRIBUTION TO THE LOCAL EDUCATION FUND. >>Chuck Burkett: WELL, IT'S DEAR TO MY HEART. I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS WHEN PAAVO AND I FIRST STARTED ON THIS JOURNEY, WE REALIZED THAT WE BOTH SHARED SOMETHING THAT I THINK IS DIFFERENT IN MOST RESPECTS TO MOST PEOPLE. OUR CORPORATE CULTURE REQUIRES US TO GET INVOLVED WITH THE COMMUNITIES IN WHICH WE'RE WORKING WITH. WE HAVE A VERY STRONG SENSE OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITIES. IN RESPECT TO EcoVillage IN DUNEDIN, WE HAVE CHOSEN THE PINELLAS EDUCATION FOUNDATION'S "TAKE STOCK IN CHILDREN," THE OLD DOORWAYS PROGRAM, AS A RECIPIENT FOR WHAT WE HOPE TO BE $100,000 DONATION THAT WE WILL MAKE TO THE PINELLAS EDUCATION FOUNDATION FROM OURSELVES AND FROM OUR PARTNERS. WE HAVE APPROACHED OUR PARTNERS, AND EVERYBODY SAYS, YES, YES, YES, WE WANT TO DO IT. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO THE CITY OF DUNEDIN? IT MEANS THAT IF WE MEET OUR GOAL OF A $100,000 DONATION, THE PINELLAS EDUCATION FOUNDATION MATCHES IT, AND THAT'S 200,000.

THE STATE OF FLORIDA MATCHES THE 200, IT'S 400,000. AND THEN WE WILL PROVIDE IN EXCESS OF 50 COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS TO AT-RISK CHILDREN IN THE DUNEDIN SCHOOL DISTRICT. SO WE WILL BE GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY TO MAKE THE COMMUNITY A BETTER COMMUNITY TO LIVE IN. AND WE'RE HOPING WHAT WE DO CATCHES ON, AND WE'LL FIND THAT OTHER PRIVATE SECTOR PEOPLE THAT WORK WITH CITIES AND COUNTIES, LIKE WE ARE, WILL FOLLOW SUIT AND PROVIDE HELP SUCH AS WHAT WE'RE DOING. WE HAVE CHOSEN THE KIDS. WE LOVE THE MULTIPLE FOUR TIMES OUR CONTRIBUTION, AND IT AFFECTS SO MANY LIVES, BECAUSE I HAD A MEETING WITH THE EDUCATION FOUNDATION THE OTHER DAY, AND THEY WERE TRYING TO ESTIMATE HOW MANY KIDS THAT WOULD HELP IN VOCATIONAL. AND I'M A GREAT PROPONENT OF VOCATIONAL TRAINING, AND SO I WANT TO MAKE SURE SOME OF THE MONEY GOES TO VOCATIONAL TRAINING, AND IT ALSO GOES TO TWO-YEAR COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS AND FOUR-YEAR. THEY SAID SOMEWHERE 50 TO 80 CHILDREN WILL RECEIVE HELP. >>Frank: THAT'S TERRIFIC.

BECAUSE THE PROJECT IS GREEN, SUSTAINABLE, PROGRESSIVE ON ALL LEVELS. AND WE REALLY APPRECIATE THE FACT THAT YOU'RE DOING THIS. DO YOU HAVE A QUICK PHONE NUMBER THAT YOU CAN GIVE PEOPLE IF THEY WANT MORE INFORMATION? >>Paavo Salmi: YES. THE BEST WAY TO GET INFORMATION IS TO GO TO OUR DEDICATED WEB SITE, ecovillageDUNEDIN.COM OR YOU CAN CALL 727-288-2277. >>Frank: ALL RIGHT. WELL, UNFORTUNATELY, WE COULD TAKE ANOTHER HOUR HERE TO TALK ABOUT THIS. IT'S A VERY EXCITING PROGRAM, BUT WE ONLY HAVE A COUPLE OF MINUTES LEFT TO WRAP UP THE SHOW. AND WE REALLY WANT TO THANK OUR GUESTS CHUCK BURKETT AND PAAVO SALMI FROM THE PLANET GREEN GROUP. WE'D ALSO LIKE TO THANK PINELLAS COUNTY COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT AND, OF COURSE, OUR FRIENDS AT WRXB 1590 AM. BE SURE TO JOIN US NEXT MONTH, AND PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SHOW OR WOULD LIKE TO PROVIDE ANY FEEDBACK. I'M FRANK BOWMAN. >>Jane: AND I'M JANE MUHRLIN. >>Frank: THANKS FOR TUNING IN AND REMEMBER — >> BOTH: "THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

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