As the world advances in technology and environmental awareness, more and more businesses are racing to cater to consumers who want the latest and greatest in tech, convenience and energy efficiency.
That’s exactly what Fulton Homes is doing with their latest development: a 674-home, master-planned community with the option to install a compressed natural gas, or CNG, filling station in every garage. That’s right; homeowners would be able to fuel up their natural gas car at home, without ever having to waste time at a fueling station again.
At the Queen Creek Station community in Queen Creek, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix, Fulton Homes is teaming up with Southwest Gas and AutoNation Honda to become the first and only homebuilder in the nation to offer CNG filling stations in homes.
But what does it all mean? Allow us to elaborate on the wonders of natural gas vehicles:
Compressed natural gas is a pressurized natural gas that remains clear, odorless and non-corrosive, which can be used as a highly energy-efficient fuel for vehicles.
According to Southwest Gas, natural gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel by far; it produces 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal and 30 percent less than oil. When used as a transportation fuel, it’s highly efficient and cost effective to use.
John Litten, manager of energy solutions at Southwest Gas in Phoenix, says there’s not much difference between a CNG vehicle and a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle.
“The engine is slightly different since it is dedicated for natural gas, but performance-wise there is no difference,” says Litten. “The benefits are cleaner for the environment, domestic fuel and long-range stability, which will keep prices lower.”
In addition to the 100 models of natural gas vehicles provided by 50 different manufacturers in the United States, numerous vehicles can be converted to accept CNG as fuel. For more on converting your vehicle to CNG, visit cngnow.com. Fulton Homes also has a complete list of vehicles and converter options available in their sales offices.
Why Go for CNG?
Though CNG vehicles are not a common choice among most U.S. consumers, CNG is not a new technology.
Countries in Europe and South America have been using CNG as their main way of fueling vehicles for a while, says Dennis Webb, vice president of operations for Fulton Homes in Phoenix, and public and private fleet owners, cities and states are continually looking to natural gas vehicles. There are nearly 17 million natural gas vehicles currently in use worldwide, but only 150,000 of those are on U.S. roadways.
In fact, 55 percent of new refuse vehicles (or garbage trucks) purchased run on natural gas, as do 35 percent of new city transit buses, according to the American Gas Association. And there are more than 1,500 CNG fueling stations in the United States, about half of which are available to the public. Six of those are found in the Phoenix area.
As U.S. consumers look to save money and reduce their carbon footprint, CNG is something more homebuyers may look into. Below are just a few more reasons why natural gas could be your best option:
- Carbon monoxide is reduced by up to 75 percent.
- Carbon dioxide is reduced by up to 30 percent.
- Particle matter emissions are reduced by up to 90 percent.
- Volatile organic compound emissions are reduced by up to 55 percent.
- Natural gas emits virtually no sulfur dioxide, mercury or particulate pollution.
- Engine parts last longer because of reduced lead.
- Driving with natural gas can cut fuel costs nearly in half.
In addition, Phoenix drivers are allowed to drive in the HOV lane with only one occupant, as long as their car is a natural gas vehicle.
“[Queen Creek Station] was perfect for that because it’s about 30 miles from Phoenix in the southeast valley,” says Webb. “Somebody could take a CNG car, get in the carpool lane and save about 15 to 20 minutes each way if they’re driving to Tempe or Phoenix.”
Inside Queen Creek Station
Each home at Queen Creek Station comes with the option to be upgraded with a CNG filling station in the garage. If a buyer chooses this option, a filling station will be attached to the gas line and mounted to the wall.
“The homes will have two gas lines with two separate gas meters,” says Webb. “They get two separate bills: one bill for the house appliances and the other for CNG at a reduced residential rate.”
To fill up, homeowners use the same method as a standard gas pump. The rate of fill is about a half-gallon per hour, so if five gallons of natural gas are used, it would take 10 hours to fill, Webb says. And don’t worry, the system shuts off automatically, so you can leave the nozzle in your car unattended.
“It’s as safe as any electric appliance,” says Webb. “We have to get the gas to pass the inspection just like anything else we do, so it’s about as safe as your gas water heater.”
In addition to the CNG upgrades, Fulton Homes, an Energy Star Partner of the Year and a winner of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor airPLUS Leader Award, offers many other fine amenities at Queen Creek Station: three miles of meandering hiking and jogging trails; the Queen Creek Marketplace with stores like Starbucks, Super Target, Kohl’s, PetSmart and more; and extras like tot lots, ramadas, grilling areas, basketball courts, a 5,000-square-foot pool and much more.
Queen Creek Station offers three series of homes with 24 different floor plans, all of which are Energy Star and Indoor airPLUS certified, and fiber-connected ultra-high-speed Internet is also available.
For more information, head down to the community itself, as Fulton Homes staff members are already waiting to show you around the Energy Center. And if you want to see a CNG vehicle in action, don’t forget to ask for a tour around the community in their 2015 CNG Honda Civic provided by AutoNation Honda.