Whisper Valley, a development project in Austin, Texas, is combining energy efficiency, digitalization and affordable housing. That in itself is good, but this new community has even more to offer and is astonishing in its scope.
Once completed, Whisper Valley will comprise 7,500 residential units in zero-energy single- and multi-family homes arranged over an area of more than 2,000 acres. In addition, there will be approx. 200,000 square meters of office, retail, commercial and service space, as well as parks and other public spaces. This makes Whisper Valley the largest project of this kind in the USA and one of the world’s largest energy-neutral urban developments.
Located about 19 miles from downtown Austin, the project is combining just about everything ecological that is currently possible: photovoltaics, highly insulated composite walls, energy-saving household appliances and, most important of all, geothermal heating and cooling systems. Thus far, work for the first two phases of the construction of 474 buildings has consisted in laying a number of ring-shaped pipes in the ground, to which each building will be connected by two hoses. Once the project has been completed, however, Whisper Valley will operate the largest geothermal network that has ever been built for residential buildings.
More than digital networking
The digital networking will also be state of the art: equipped with Google Nest, each home will be smart. The options on offer throughout the community will also include Google Fiber for superfast internet connection. Still, man does not live by bits and bytes alone. There is already a community center as a place to meet. What is more, the project has also created community gardens where the residents can grow fruit and vegetables for healthy, ecological nutrition.
It all sounds great, but will probably be expensive. “No!” is the response from the real-estate firm Taurus Investment Holdings, which started Whisper Valley in a club deal with ultra-wealthy private investors from Germany. Houses and apartments will be sold at the same prices as conventional buildings, but the buyers will have to pay a fixed charge for 25 years that will be approximately equivalent to the energy costs saved. This will ensure planning reliability for both the residents and the investors.
Cost advantages through scaling effects
For the investors, the scope of the project alone will yield potential financial advantages — so-called scaling effects. This is attributable not only to the use of geothermal systems, but generally, as the per-unit costs for a community with a total of 7,500 residential units can be lower than the per-unit costs for smaller communities or even for a single house — and the savings can be passed along to the residents.
As Axel Lerche, CEO of EcoSmart Solution, a Taurus subsidiary created especially for this project, puts it: “The EcoSmart Program in Whisper Valley is combining sustainable technological solutions in the construction of homes and already integrating them in the development and utility networking of our community. However, the individual components and their interaction can also be utilized in other places.”
To learn more about Whisper Valley, please visit Stand B1.430, Taurus Investment’s stand at EXPO REAL 2018. Since you would probably prefer not to wait so long, you can find a brief video here.
EXPO REAL also presents pioneering projects in the INTELLIGENT URBANIZATION FORUM. For more information, please see this page.
Soon this blog will also report on the projects that will present themselves at EXPO REAL 2018.