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Why Build Eco Homes?

Discover the inspiration behind the Ralston mission to build hyper-efficient, quality homes in the Cedar Rapids area.

How it began.

Jeff Ralston sought to build homes that were not only energy efficient, but also durable enough to withstand the extreme Iowa climate. Partnering with builder Todd Richardson, the goal was to build a comfortable home with the capability to achieve total energy independence if desired. The floor plans and products used would still be accessible to the average contractor.

Setting the bar high, Ralston Eco Homes has achieved Net Zero Energy Ready certification as set by the U.S. Department of Energy. This sets the standard for home efficiency in Cedar Rapids and the majority of eastern Iowa. 

Using one of Todd's existing floor plans, Jeff and Todd partnered with Mike Nolan of Horizon Original Architecture to draw up plans to achieve DOE Net Zero Energy Ready certification. Modeling the ventilation, heating and cooling methods necessary, the plan was presented to The Element Group for further analysis. 

With a solid plan in place, the next steps were consulting with local HVAC specialists at Colony Heating, Plumbing & Air Conditioning to identify the equipment necessary to reach DOE standards. The final specs include specialized insulation, heat pumps, plumbing, windows and doors. The home is ready for a solar array + battery and includes an electric car charging port in the garage.

 

The first Ralson Eco Home was built in 2022 and has since hit a remarkably low HERS rating of 38. When combined with a solar array, this debut home is estimated to save as much as $2,667 per year in energy costs vs. a traditional home - all without sacrificing comfort or style. Below you can read about more about the specific steps taken to reach these benchmarks. 
 

100
60
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38

A standard, new home has a HERS rating of 100. High efficiency standards are usually considered within the 60 range. The most recent Ralston Eco Home came in at 38.

When combined with a solar array, our most recent floor plan will save $2,667 on estimated annual energy costs compared to a standard new home. 

Custom features thrust Ralston Eco Homes into the new age of energy tech including an electric car charging point, electric pumps and heating/cooling systems.

Additional Efficiency Specs:

Here's a short list of additional enhancements that contribute to our area-leading levels of efficiency

  • Rigid foam insulation under the concrete slab of the entire home and on all external vertical surfaces (footings to roof)

  • Fiberglass and cellulose insulation on the interior of all vertical walls including the basement and garage

  • Airtight interior achieved via AeroBarrier technology - an airborne, acrylic sealant tested down to 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 PA

  • Heating & cooling powered through high efficiency electric heat pumps

  • High performance windows and doors supplied by Pella

  • All appliances included with the home are Energy Star rated

  • Water Sense certified faucets and fixtures

  • Internal air quality maintained with an ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilation)

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