Blogs > Sara Gutterman > May 2013 > Can American Homeowners Have it All?

Can American Homeowners Have it All?

Earlier this week, I interviewed CR Herro, VP of Environmental Affairs for Meritage Homes (9th largest production builder in the country). Our discussion focused on Meritage’s new MGV5 pilot, which is a “durable, healthy, safe, sustainable, emotionally engaging, behavior adapting, and net-zero energy home for an average consumer with no compromises in first cost, lifestyle, or design.”

Sound too good to be true? Not necessarily.

“In the down economy, homes became a commodity,” says Herro. “Meritage’s goal over the past few years has been to create better homes that create real value for consumers.” Meritage has taken the best of European performance and blended it with Japanese predictability to create the MGV5, the company’s fifth iteration of a sustainable home model.

The MGV5 uses Hercuwall Insulated Concrete Panels (ICPs)—a hybrid system that blends the strength, efficiency, and performance of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) with the ease of installation associated with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). According to Herro, this panelized, factory-built approach offers Meritage a “reasonable, scalable, and cost-effective way to build sustainable homes on a production scale,” and he believes that the process has strong potential to affect real, long-lasting change in the industry.

“It’s easy,” says Herro. “Each wall panel is cut in a factory, heavily insulated, and structured with steel and concrete. The panels are then delivered on the back of a small truck to the jobsite. Then we take the panels, lock them into place, fill the steel structure with concrete (which can be sourced locally), and voila!, in half a day we can erect, insulate, internally frame, and case a home with a superior structure, air barrier, and thermal mass that is efficient, precise, durable, quiet, rot proof, and resilient to weather events and pests.”

Herro affirms that the system is cost competitive. “While ICFs are strong and efficient, they are labor intensive and have a high material costs, which makes it difficult to justify their ROI. The Hercuwall system cuts the material cost in half and reduces labor costs by 60%, when compared to ICFs. The system also saves us money when compared to traditional framing—the walls are more expensive, but we reach a net positive though efficiencies and reduced labor costs.”

The MGV5 plan is designed to achieve a HERS Index score of 50, a 60% energy savings when compared to an average U.S. home of the same size, which translates into a potential $80,000 savings over a 30 year mortgage. With the addition of a reasonable size solar system, the home readily becomes net-zero energy.

Meritage will test the MGV5 model in Arizona this summer, with the anticipation that it will be rolled out for testing across the country in the Fall.

Are there other innovative, cost-effective, game-changing systems that we should know about? Write to me at or follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

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Posted: 5/3/2013 9:11:49 AM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments

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