Distinctive Homes builds 'green'; offers homes with Energy Star

Distinctive Homes of Las Vegas is building green, offering homes with Energy Star and other energy-efficient features that are included in the price of the home.

"We build houses that make sense in today's world. Because of this, we're dedicated to developing individual and customer-oriented solutions and the awareness of the need for energy efficiency," said Steve Kelly, the company's vice-president of construction.

"Consumers today are interested in affordable alternatives, and participating in reduction of greenhouse emissions, and having the satisfaction of owning an energy-efficient home. Even though the bar is constantly being raised, the home bought today will continue to perform through the life of the house."

Distinctive Homes has been an Energy Star builder since the program began 16 years ago. Every home's Sears Kenmore dishwasher -- both the standard and optional upgrades -- is Energy Star-rated, according to Kelly.

The Lennox air-conditioning system in each residence is rated 15 SEER, which stands for seasonal energy efficiency rating, a federal standard that measures how efficiently a residential central cooling system -- air conditioner or heat pump -- will operate over an entire season, as opposed to a single outdoor temperature. The local code is 13 SEER. The higher the efficiency rating, the greater the energy savings.

In addition, Lennox's patented Silent Comfort technology provides quiet cooling. This means that it takes 40 Lennox air conditioners to equal the noise made by one standard air-conditioning unit.

Cocoon thermal insulation is also standard in each home. The insulation is Class 1 fire-rated because it increases a wall's fire resistance as much as 55 percent. It blocks air infiltration and convection currents to increase energy efficiency and reduces nuisance noise while it preserves natural resources, as it is made from nearly 80 percent recycled paper.

Low-e vinyl Atrium windows are standard, too, Kelly said. Low-e is short for low emissivity and indicates a window has been coated with a microscopic, virtually invisible, metallic oxide layer that improves thermal performance by reducing solar heat gain and blocking as much as 95 percent of ultraviolet light.

Sealed tight ductwork also is part of every home.

"This is insulated, sealed and tested to minimize leaks and maintain a consistent temperature distribution," Kelly said.

Programmable thermostats in every home provide maximum control over daily temperature settings and allow for automatic adjustment when no one is home.

The exterior of each house is fully sheeted with OSB (oriented strand board) sheeting. Made from the same material as plywood, OSB is resin-reinforced to provide additional sound reduction and thermal performance. It also makes the house structurally stronger.

The industry standard of R-value (level of thermal protection) for attic insulation is 30. Distinctive Homes' standard level is R-38 and, in some homes, may be upgraded to R-49. The R-value is associated with the measurement of the rate at which heat is transferred from warm to cold.

Each home undergoes energy inspection for energy efficient construction by an independent third-party inspector. This ensures compliance with Energy Star construction standards and verification of installed materials. This is done during construction and, again, at the house's completion.

The homebuyer can add options to further increase the home's energy efficiency.

The Smart Irrigation Controller is programmed for specific plant and sprinkler types. It monitors weather readings to determine the right amount of water for each zone in the yard. It takes guesswork out of how long a sprinkler system should run, thus saving 20 to 50 percent on the water bill, Kelly said. An added bonus is that a built-in weather monitor prevents watering on rainy or freezing days.

Radiant barrier roof sheeting provides a layer of aluminum on the wood in the roof to reduce the summer heat gain and winter heat loss. This reduces utility bills. This option has been proven to prevent as much as 97 percent of radiant heat from radiating in the attic because, since aluminum reflects heat, the heat doesn't radiate back into the attic. Attic temperatures can be reduced by as much as 30 degrees, meaning that heating and air-conditioning systems work less to keep the temperature right.

Two neighborhoods offered by Distinctive Homes are Canyon Estates and Springs Ranch.

Canyon Estates, priced from the $500,000s, is located at 866 Tent Rocks Court, Las Vegas, Nev., 89118 on the corner of Warm Springs Road and Valley View Boulevard. The office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, call 658-5050, or visit canyonsestates.com.

Springs Ranch, priced from the $167,000s, is located at 9496 Knopfler Lane, Las Vegas, Nev., 89148, on the corner of Post Road and Fort Apache Road. The office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, call 220-4400, or visit springsranchlv.com.