Stakeholder Spotlight – GEOS Neighborhood

February 9, 2021

We are very excited to welcome Ranier Gerbatsch from the GEOS Neighborhood as one of our stakeholders at Denver Metro clean Cities! GEOS Neighborhood is a net-zero, sustainably powered community that features energy efficient townhomes, single family homes and duplexes. The homes are designed to produce as much, if not more, energy than they consume in a year. Ranier spoke with us about GEOS’s off-the-grid approach and how they handle electric vehicle charging within the neighborhood. Keep reading to learn more about the GEOS community, their sustainability goals and the future of the neighborhood. 


Organization: GEOS Neighborhood

Location: Arvada, CO

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*Note: The following answers are summarized from an interview with Ranier Gerbatsch from the GEOS Neighborhood

What is your favorite part of living in the GEOS neighborhood?  

The best part is that the neighborhood is fully decarbonized and off the grid. We are a net-zero community built with the most advanced design and building practices and our savings and solar generation helps us remain net-zero in winter too. The people here are also very friendly; we get together outside (socially distanced now) and have a really great sense of community. We are hoping to incorporate businesses into the neighborhood as well to maintain the tight-knit atmosphere and the self-sustaining nature of the community.

You own a couple EVs, where do you charge them? Are there public stations available in the neighborhood?  

I charge my EVs in my garage with a 240 volt outlet. Single houses in the neighborhood have 240 volt outlets as well as townhouses. However, rowhomes don’t have charging capabilities. We conducted a survey recently showing that people are becoming increasingly interested in buying EVs. As a result of the potential increase in charging demand, we want to add chargers on the street in the neighborhood with 2-3 dual charging heads. To make this a reality, we are currently talking to Matt Mines from the Colorado Energy Office and are hoping to apply for the May/June round of the Charge Ahead Colorado grant. We are also talking to different vendors about price while waiting for that application to open so we can be informed and prepared.  

GEOS is a net-zero community and the electricity comes from sustainable sources. Do you notice a difference in your charging capabilities in comparison to traditional electricity sources?  

The capabilities of sustainable electricity are the same, at least I consider them to be. Whatever energy we generate has to go back to Excel anyway, we send it back for our charging or housing baseload, it just happens to be generated using renewable sources. In addition to household electricity usage, most of the homes in the community have 240 volt outlets capable of charging two electric cars at the same time. Just plug your car in and it’s essentially free energy, not counting the initial cost of infrastructure. There really is no difference in performance compared to traditionally sourced electricity. 

There are certainly cost considerations to building this type of infrastructure, but if you replicate it 1000 times or more, the overall cost will come down. The more net zero homes there are, the more contractors would get on board and the lower the cost would be. The only reason contractors and builders are hesitant about net-zero infrastructure is that “it’s too complicated”. The truth is that it’s not complicated, and one of our big goals is to educate people about what being net-zero entails and just how attainable this type of living is. 

What does the future of the GEOS neighborhood look like? Are there any plans to design and build more in Colorado?  

The GEOS neighborhood represents the first phase of this type of community. Just across the street they are getting ready to build next phase. There have been some unforeseen challenges, and now the project has a new developer, but we are still jointly looking for a builder for construction of the next set of homes and are hoping to get a commitment from the new developer that will keep the net-zero concept going. Hopefully the next phase will start in the next few months. The main difference in this new neighborhood is that there will be better technology. The first phase was the “pilot”, used to discover any mistakes or improvements to be made, and the new houses in the second phase will be redesigned to accommodate the corrections. Specifically, more rowhomes are being incorporated and more outside infrastructure is needed for the phase two neighborhood. One of the things I am pushing for in the new neighborhood is more permeable surfacing that allows water to make it back into the soil. I used to live outside New York City working as a water consultant and we were looking to change to permeable surfacing in the city. There were green roofs already in place, which helped a lot with collecting extra water, and the permeable surfacing would have been an extra measure to make sure the water wasn’t collecting in the streets. I want these concepts to be cultivated and improved so they become widely accepted and the only reasonable choice for building new homes. I hope the GEOS neighborhood will be an example of that. 

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