Image 1 / 10
Anthony Aebi President, Greenhill Contracting
Anthony Aebi is credited with building the first zero-net energy homes in the Northeast and is building communities around the concept that homes should produce more energy than they consume. Having started his career doing loft renovations in New York City, Aebi moved to the Hudson Valley and began stick-framing homes, which left him unsatisfied due to their inefficiency. He experimented with ICFs, better windows, better insulation, and a tighter building envelope, and then tried solar electric and hot water systems and geothermal heating and cooling, as he found it hard to sell a luxury home without air conditioning. The results were two beautiful, spacious, luxury EnergyStar and LEED-certified homes in Esopus with all the bells and whistles—with no energy cost to the purchasers. The problem: No one purchased them. Because there are no comparables, the appraisal system doesn’t yet recognize the enormous long-term benefits and operational savings to these homes, and the down economy—the homes are still available. Aebi recognized the need to provide the same zero-energy benefits in mid-range homes, and developed Green Acres in New Paltz, a 25-lot subdivision within walking distance to schools, shops, and recreation. Five homes are occupied and two more are under construction. Each so far has put back into the electric grid much more power than it consumed. One owner whose former house cost $6,000 per year for energy estimates that with his home’s energy savings and all the federal and state rebates and incentives, he’s got a 7-year payback on the upfront investment.
Greenhill purchased the 11-lot Scenic Meadows subdivision in Gardiner last fall and plans to create another zero-energy community. Aebi is evangelical about zero-energy homes: “It’s a more sustainable way of living—and it makes more economic sense,” he says. And “if energy prices go up, the houses will be a whole lot more affordable.”
Meet the players who are making an impact by creating a more sustainable built environment.