Net Zero Energy 189-Acre Development Planned for Illinois

net zero energy housing commercial development real estate Illinois
A net zero energy development is being planned for Lockport, Illinois. Credit: City of Lockport, Illinois

Burr Ridge, Illinois-based real estate company Hawthorne is currently planning a net zero energy housing and commercial development for Lockport, Illinois, Crain’s Chicago Business reported. The project for Lockport, located about 30 miles southwest of Chicago, calls for 500 homes as well as a shopping center and a charter school.

Serenity Landing, the new development, is slated for a 189-acre site that Hawthorne Group founder and CEO Ganesan Visvabharathy bought out of foreclosure, according to Crain’s. The project’s energy needs would be met by solar panels on every structure’s rooftop, geothermal pumps, and energy-tight construction.

“In all, the energy generated on site would be equal to [what] the residents and businesses consume, or net zero,” Crain’s reporter Dennis Rodkin explained. “Energy that is brought in for cooking, for example, would be offset by the excess solar power generated.”

Housing at Serenity Landing will consist of a combination of condos, senior apartments, town homes, and assisted living facilities, the Hawthorne Group’s website says. Visvabharathy is also founder and CEO of the local solar energy technology company Solar Micronics Incorporated.

The total cost for the Serenity Landing development is about $200 million and, although a timeline hasn’t been set yet, Visvabharathy plans to submit a proposal to Lockport city officials soon, Rodkin reported.

“A net zero development would be the only one in Will County or all of Chicago at that size, and we’re happy to be a trend-setter,” Lockport city administrator Ben Benson told the publication.

Net zero energy (NZE) — also called zero net energy (ZNE) — buildings are a growing trend. The largest net zero energy housing development in California, a 36-unit Central Valley project set to open in the second quarter of 2018, is currently under construction. In August, the New Buildings Institute found that the number of net zero energy commercial buildings in the US doubled between 2014 and 2017.

In an email to Crain’s Visvabharathy said that Serenity Landing’s large size will allow Hawthorne to understand the appetite that different groups such as seniors and working adults have for net zero and green construction. “We have the ability to provide different product types,” he wrote. “So if one segment is less receptive, then we can focus on the rest.”

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