CHATTAHOOCHEE HILLS, GA. — The partnership between Bosch Thermotechnology and the Serenbe community here southwest of Atlanta is a natural one. Most people in the industry are familiar with the components of the Bosch Group — companies such as Buderus boilers and solar products, and Florida Heat Pump, which is being rebranded under the Bosch name. Serenbe, however, is probably unfamiliar to most.
Serenbe is the creation of Atlanta restaurateurs Steve and Marie Nygren, who bought the first 60 acres of land that was the beginning of Serenbe back in 1991. The weekend visits became a full time life when the Nygrens and their children moved to the farm in 1994.
Serenbe in the years to come grew from being a place to live to becoming a raison d’être for Steve Nygren. He feared that the suburban sprawl of metro Atlanta would overtake one of the last undeveloped stretches of land in the Atlanta area. Nygren, his neighbors and his business partners decided to turn Serenbe, which now comprises 1,000 acres, into an ecologically sound, sustainable planned community.
Land preservation is a big part of the community — 80% of the land is designated for green space — as is organic farming. The community, however, embraces green and sustainable building practices in a way that would make any plumbing and mechanical contractor happy.
Using newly designed, yet inexpensive reuse water techniques, treated effluent water is reused for irrigation and future water supply for toilets. Other wastewater is treated in a two-stage chemical-free passive system that incorporates non-disruptive filtration and dispersion.
Rather than creating concrete spillways that concentrate storm runoff, Serenbe storm water runoff is directed into natural systems of vegetated filter strips and shallow channels of dense vegetation. These natural filters remove pollutants while dispersing water flow.
Of particular interest to contractors, all homes are built to the standards of the EarthCraft House Program. These standards include energy efficiency, low maintenance, air quality, water conservation, and resource-efficient building materials and systems.
Earthcraft was a bit ahead of its time when it was created in 1999. The Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association and Southface launched EarthCraft House, a residential green building program designed to address the climate conditions of the Southeast. (Southface is an energy efficiency education and consulting firm that performs services such as building assessment and certification, energy modeling, and training.)
The EarthCraft House program is intended for single-family detached homes, townhomes and duplexes. The program is a blueprint for creating and maintaining energy- and resource-efficient living environments
EarthCraft House certifications are determined through a points-based worksheet, which allows builders to select the sustainability measures that are best suited for their project. Worksheet items address proper site planning, energy-efficient appliances and lighting, resource-efficient building materials, indoor air quality, water conservation and homebuyer education, and all are verified during site visits and inspections. EarthCraft-certified homes must also pass diagnostic tests for air infiltration and duct leakage standards, and homes certified at the gold or platinum levels must meet Energy Star requirements.
Given the environment and mind-set in Serenbe, a manufacturer of high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment and appliances fit right in.
On May 31, the Bosch Group held a Grand Opening Event for its Bosch Experience Center, an educational and interactive demonstration center for Bosch products, located within the Serenbe community. Representatives from Bosch and Serenbe along with invited dignitaries and press members were in attendance.
The Bosch Experience Center features a functional demonstration of a geothermal heating and cooling system (recognized in 2012 and 2013 as “Most Efficient” by Energy Star) as well as a solar thermal system. It also showcases related Bosch Thermotechnology solutions as well as energy efficient appliances, security and sound systems, power tools, aluminum structural materials and automotive clean diesel technology, all from the Bosch Group.
Visitors to the Bosch Experience Center will have the opportunity to experience an array of Bosch products and solutions inside the building.
Serenbe boasts several net-zero owned and occupied homes equipped with se-lected Bosch Thermotechnology products such as geothermal heat pumps, an electric heat pump water heater, gas condensing boilers and combi boilers, a gas condensing water heater, indirect water tanks and a solar thermal hot water sys-tem.
“Bosch has been an incredible partner,” said Steve Nygren. “With the industry’s brightest minds and best products, Bosch is helping us achieve our vision of providing cost-effective, sustainable home solutions for discerning homebuyers. With the complete suite of Bosch products, we can provide a unique one-stop solution — a critical issue for homebuilders, installers and consumers. It’s now possible to not only achieve energy efficient performance, but also retain a reasonable home purchase entry price point for the U.S. consumer of approximately $250,000 — which helps diminish a major roadblock for widespread sustainable technology adoption.”