Pulaski County students help build net-zero energy home

Atmos Energy said the home is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes within a year

DUBLIN, Va. – Students in the New River Valley are getting hands-on experience to prepare for real-world work.

Pulaski County High School students are building the first net-zero home, which is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes within a year, resulting in net zero energy consumption according to Atmos Energy’s website.

Nathan Pratt, a student in the Carpentry program with Pulaski County’s Career and Technical Education Center, is one of 2 dozen students learning how to build a net-zero home in Dublin.

“It feels good to know that when I apply for a job with a construction company, I have real-world experience,” Pratt said.

Students at Pulaski County’s CTE program get all the experience necessary to take part in projects like this one – skills like learning how to accurately measure materials.

“I noticed when I was down here in this region, we did not have a strong trade program,” Wesley Smith with Setter Construction said.

Smith partnered with Habitat for Humanity and Pulaski County schools to build homes and teach students proper techniques to ensure it’s sturdy.

“It feels great; we’ve done small projects with Pulaski County, we worked with Pulaski County, but this is the first home we built with them,” Smith said.

The 1200-square-foot home will have solar panels installed and mostly use gas for energy.

“To build homes that don’t use a lot of energy, energy is a finite source in our world, and we need to respect our world,” Smith said.

It will cost about $160,000 to build the home, and Atmos Energy is the company paying the entire cost.

“We wanted to build a home in each state we serve, the new river valley area is one of the major areas that we serve, so we wanted to be a partner in the community,” Danny Bertotti with Atmos Energy said.

Pulaski County School leaders are pleased there are efforts to train the next workforce generation.

“That’s what we do here and the fact that we have companies willing to fund these opportunities and to invest in our future workforce it means the world,” Megan Atkinson the Director of the CTE Center said.

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