This house generates more energy than it uses, but even more noteworthy is its location: in a leafy, walkable neighborhood
Matt and Kelly Grocoff have renovated their 110-year-old home in Ann Arbor, Michigan to state-of-the-art energy standards. Their energy bills demonstrate the results: They actually generate more energy from on-site renewable sources than they consume. The Grocoffs believe they now have the oldest "net zero" home in America.
There's a lot to like about this, but what I like best is that the home is green not only with respect to building energy but also with respect to transportation energy, because it is in a walkable city neighborhood of older homes on compact lots on gridded streets, with services and amenities close by. They sit within a block's walk of three schools by my count, and there is a transit line also a block away. There's a neighborhood pocket park just down their own block. There's a market, a bank branch, and several restaurants within a 10- to 12-minute walk. Yet theirs is a leafy neighborhood of mostly single-family homes.
I ran the address through the Center for Neighborhood Technology's Abogo calculator for transportation costs and emissions: an average household in the Grocoffs' neighborhood emits only half as much carbon from transportation as does an average household for the metropolitan region as a whole. This is because the Grocoffs' more central, more walkable location shortens driving distances and tends to reduce automobile trips, compared to more outlying subdivisions.