netZero Village First of its Kind in Capital District

A $20 million apartment complex unlike any other is coming to Rotterdam.

Called Net Zero Village, the complex of 156 units across 13 buildings at the corner of Burdeck Street and Duanesburg Road will produce as much energy or more energy than it consumes in a given year. Developer David Bruns of Bruns Realty Group plans to do this by harvesting energy on-site through solar panels, solar thermal technology, insulation and building techniques, building pressurization and energy-efficient appliances, among other methods.

“It’s very unique,” said Bruns. “It’s kind of a dream project. I’m an engineer by trade and have been in real estate management for many years, and it just seemed like a very interesting challenge. This is going to kind of change the way developers look at energy efficiency. I think it’s something that’s long overdue.”

Energy-efficient buildings have been around for a while and remain the wave of future development, but net-zero buildings are still few and far between. They are slowly gaining steam, though. In New York, zero-energy homes have popped up in Ulster County. Hudson Solar has a net-zero headquarters in Rhinebeck that features a geothermal heating and cooling system and a solar electrical system.

As far as Bruns knows, Net Zero Village will be the first net-zero apartment complex in the Capital Region.

Rotterdam officials were excited at the prospect when first approached several years ago. The Planning Commission approved the project this week. Rotterdam Senior Planner Peter Comenzo said it took so long because a good amount of back-and-forth dialogue was needed to make sure the design would be aesthetically pleasing, as well.

“Obviously we’re very excited about this project,” he said.

The 17-acre site once housed a motel and several cabins that were cleared nearly three decades ago. For 10 years, it was off the tax rolls under the ownership of the Tennessee-based Mid-America Student Housing. The group was affiliated with the tax-exempt Northeast Branch of the Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and wanted to build dormitory housing for a seminary at the site.

The project never took off, however, as it would have required a massive septic system.

Site work will begin on the net-zero project in a few weeks. Some trees will be cleared, and construction of the first phase should take about a year, Brun said. A second, final phase will kick off right after that.

The complex will feature 13 three-story buildings side by side, with 156 total units, including 39 two-bedroom units and 117 one-bedroom units. Utilities will be included in the rent, and amenities will include energy-efficient washers, dryers, kitchen appliances and more.

Each unit and building will be airtight, meaning no air will leak out, no drafts will get in and energy will be conserved.

“It’s very important for energy-efficient buildings,” Bruns said. “But because of that, you want to bring fresh air into the building, so each apartment will have its own continuous fresh air supply, so the air quality is going to be very, very good inside the apartments.”

This is the first net-zero project for Bruns Realty Group, which just completed a 54-unit apartment project on Fort Hunter Road in Rotterdam.