Zero‐energy Capable Community Tackles Austin’s Affordability Crisis
Developers of Whisper Valley are taking on Austin’s affordability crisis.
The $2 billion master-planned development in East Austin will not only be the largest zero‐energy capable housing community in the nation, but it will also offer homes from the low $200s—well below Austin’s median list price of $385,000. In addition, developer Taurus is working with the city of Austin to set up the Whisper Valley Housing Foundation, which will offer long-‐term sustainable affordable housing to homebuyers who make 80% of the Austin medium income.
The program will be available in the first part of 2017 and will provide down payment and closing cost assistance to qualified buyers.
“Everyone in Austin knows affordability is a hot topic but we wanted to do more than just talk about it,” said Douglas Gilliland, president of Taurus of Texas, the developer of Whisper Valley. “We are bringing a new product to the market that meets the budget and lifestyles of first time buyers and growing families as well as reducing the carbon footprint.”
Gilliland noted that while some competitors are removing features to reduce costs in Austin, Whisper Valley is adding in more innovative technology and energy efficient systems and products. Taurus was able to lower costs by working with builders and investing in sustainable infrastructure upfront utilizing a comprehensive program by EcoSmart Solution.
“Many home shoppers are having a difficult time finding a new home that meets their budget,” said Vaike O’Grady, Austin Regional Director for Metrostudy. “In the past year, only 12% of new homes had a base price starting below $200,000. For Whisper Valley to offer single-family homes in the high $100s is noteworthy. The market should respond well.”
Each Whisper Valley neighborhood is planned with an innovative Thermal Energy Supply System (TESS) designed to save on monthly energy bills by reducing typical monthly energy consumption by up to 65%. Solar PV using solar roof panels or solar fields will then generate enough energy to achieve zero-‐energy capable homes.
EcoSmart Solution uses a geothermal loop system combined with a Bosch ground source heat pumps and solar PV to provide the cleanest, most cost effective and efficient home heating and cooling system. Other elements of the EcoSmart Solution program include Google Nest Smart Home technology and high energy efficient Bosch appliances.
“This is a revolutionary approach to developing new home communities that we think will become the standard across the country,” Gilliland said. “By taking this approach, we will make a significant impact by making high performance homes much more affordable.”
Whisper Valley is a 2,062-acre mixed-use development consisting of over 700 acres of open space, clustered villages that include 7,500 single family and multi-family homes, village style retail and neighborhood services, restaurants and commercial. New homes are under construction now in Phase I, called Whisper Rising, by Pacesetter Homes and Avi Homes.
As the first master-planned community of this size and scope in the world to be pre-wired with Google Fiber, Whisper Valley will provide residents with super fast 1 GB Internet and unlimited capacity.
The community features a 5,000 square foot activity center with resort-style pool, creative play areas, a fitness center, multi-purpose event and activity room, a Bosch Show Kitchen and Discovery Center. In addition, 700-acres of parks and green space includes a 600-acre Whisper Valley Park with planned miles of hiking and biking trails. The sustainable lifestyle also offers community gardens and a planned organic farming program. The Discovery Center is served by Bosch electric vehicle docking stations.
Whisper Valley also has two on-site schools planned, a transportation hub and a fire station.
Whisper Valley is strategically located just east of SH-130 at FM 973 and Braker Lane within Austin’s Desired Development Zone. It is just 20 minutes from downtown Austin, 10-‐20 minutes from Google, Dell and Samsung corporate campuses, and 10 minutes from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.