Washington Post: In Md.’s Maple Lawn Community, Earth-Friendly Features Come Standard

December 08, 2015

As published in the Washington Post.

Earth-friendly green features are standard in the aptly named Sage homes in Howard County’s Maple Lawn community, halfway between Washington and Baltimore.

Geothermal heating and cooling, wiring for solar panels, and energy-saving lighting, appliances and windows are part of these 19 single-family houses being developed in Fulton, Md.

Bozzuto Homes, a Greenbelt-based home builder, says its Sage designs are the most energy-efficient speculative homes being constructed by a major developer in Maryland. The houses are designed to receive a score of 21 on the Home Energy Rating System Index, a nationally recognized method of calculating energy performance (the lower the number, the more energy-efficient the structure). In comparison, a standard new home generally earns a rating of 100.

“Since these homes are some of the last being built at Maple Lawn, we wanted to differentiate our product and try something that had not been done before,” said Thomas A. Baum, president of Bozzuto. “We wanted to combine energy efficiency and technology with cutting-edge design. The homes are some of the most contemporary in the community, with open-plan interiors and tremendous access to daylight.”

Up to seven bedrooms: Opened in November, the Sage model home demonstrates many of the customized options possible in the houses. The brick-faced, two-story design is in an established part of Maple Lawn, where houses are built with porches, pediments and peaked roofs.

The community has been under development since 2004 and will have 1,340 homes when finished in 2018, according to Greenebaum Enterprises, the community’s Baltimore-based master developer. Most of the Bozzuto Sage home sites are within the final section of 152 lots now being developed on the western side of Maple Lawn.

Each of the standard Sage homes has 3,000 square feet with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a two-car garage. Prices start at $799,990 for the basic home, $819,990 for a design with a side porch and a second-level balcony, and $834,990 for a house with a wraparound porch. Two of the 19 homes have already sold, and a third is under construction for delivery in spring 2016.

Each of the three available designs has the same floor plan, unless it is customized. The standard two levels and unfinished basement can be upgraded with additional bedrooms and bathrooms, gourmet kitchen, extended deck, and finished attic loft and basement for additional costs. All floor plans can be expanded up to 4,649 square feet with seven bedrooms and five bathrooms.

Geothermal system: To fit into Maple Lawn, the eco-friendly homes follow the community-wide architectural standards set by the Baltimore-based Design Collective for Greenebaum Enterprises. Buyers of the Sage homes choose among predetermined exterior colors and materials, including fiber-cement siding and brick.

While the building exteriors are traditional in design, the main-level interior of the Sage model home feels airy and modern. Living and dining areas and kitchen are combined within a large, 10-foot-tall space opening to a rear deck through floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. Sleek furnishings, bright color schemes, and striped wall and ceiling treatments emphasize a contemporary look throughout the home.

Among the upgrades in the model are a coffered ceiling in the living area and an expansive rear deck with a dining area and built-in barbecue grill. A mudroom customized with built-in benches and shelving is located next to the kitchen, and the finished basement includes a wet bar and a TV lounge.

Buyers interested in the green features of the Sage homes can check out the geothermal equipment and optional tankless water heater in the basement utility room. Consisting of an indoor heat pump and a buried system of pipes called a ground loop, the geothermal system takes advantage of steady underground temperatures to provide low-cost heating and cooling. The Bosch geothermal technology in the Sage house incorporates a space-saving vertical ground loop in the yard.

More technology is evident in the garage, where an electric-car charging station and an exposed section of thermally efficient “blow-in blanket system” (BIBS) insulation are visible on one wall. Both cost extra, as does the installation of solar panels to take advantage of the wiring for the technology that comes standard.

Buyers of the Sage homes may qualify for tax credits and financial incentives from government agencies. These benefits include the energy-conservation credit under Howard County’s High Performance Buildings Program and a Residential Clean Energy Grant from the Maryland Energy Administration. A federal tax credit for 30 percent of the total equipment and installation cost of a geothermal system is available through 2016.

Schools: Fulton Elementary, Lime Kiln Middle, Reservoir High

Transit: Maple Lawn is near the intersection of Routes 216 and 29, about six miles from Columbia, Md. The Intercounty Connector/Md. 200 is about eight miles away. Interstate 495 is about five miles away.