Construction Begins on netZero Village

Construction has started on netZero Village, a 156-unit apartment complex in Rotterdam, New York that is designed to produce as much energy than it uses.

Photovoltaic panels mounted on carports and solar thermal panels on the roof will generate electricity and heat water tanks.

Windows will be airtight, the walls packed with insulation and the lights made of long-lasting LEDs. To ensure good ventilation, each apartment will have a fresh-air exchange.

“At night or on cloudy days, the complex consumes energy from the grid,” said David Bruns, owner of Bruns Realty Group, the developer. “In the summer, the electric meter will spin backwards. At the end of the year, that meter usage will be zero.”

So-called ‘net-zero’ apartments and homes have been popping up across the country, as developers and property owners seek ways to reduce energy costs and be more environmentally friendly.

It’s a small but growing segment of the real estate industry, and one that Bruns wholeheartedly supports.

Bruns, a multi-family developer for the past 25 years, took a long time planning, designing and financing netZero Village because he’s a strong believer in helping the environment.

“As a member of the human race, I’m interested in that,” Bruns said.

That commitment extends to his personal life.

Bruns, 49, drives an all-electric Tesla (list price: $90,000) and owns a van and two pick-up trucks fueled by recycled vegetable oil. The trucks are equipped with plows to clear snow from the 200 apartments he owns in the area.

netZero Village is being built in two phases on 17 acres off Burdeck Street, near Duanesburg Road (Route 7). The land is behind an apartment complex formerly known as Carefree Village.

Bruns paid $2.1 million for the property, which includes three of the Carefree Village buildings. Those three buildings will be renovated and are not part of netZero Village.

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The first phase, which consists of 72 units, will cost $9 million. Berkshire Bank provided construction financing, and Ballston Mourningkill Associates is the general contractor.

The second phase, with 84 units, will cost $10 million.

Bruns said the energy-efficiency and environmentally friendly measures added about 15 percent to 20 percent to the construction cost. He’s not concerned because he intends to own the property for the long-term.

He also is convinced the apartments will attract tenants because of the green construction techniques and competitive rents.

A one-bedroom, 790-square-foot unit will cost $1,195, including all utilities, Internet access, basic cable, full-size washer/dryer and covered parking. A two-bedroom, 1,093-square-foot unit will rent for $1,435.

Model units are expected to be ready by mid-April.