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Array Sustainable Living Covered On WCHL

Array Sustainable Living Covered On WCHL


Array, North Carolina’s First Net Zero Energy Neighborhood, being developed by Real Estate Experts, was covered on the local news on November 27th on WCHL.  Click here to listen to the story.

One Chapel Hill resident is working towards building North Carolina’s very first net-zero energy neighborhood.

Jodi Bakst is the owner of Real Estate Experts in Chapel Hill. Since the start of 2019, she has been hard at work developing North Carolina’s first 100 percent net-zero energy residential community in Orange County.

Bakst is developing Array, a 12-lot neighborhood located on 60 acres of land off Orange Grove Road just minutes west of downtown Carrboro and Chapel Hill. Bakst said creating an energy-efficient neighborhood in Orange County is ideal and timely for several reasons.

“I think that the location of this property being in Orange County – you have a preponderance of people that really do care about the environment and care about living sustainably,” Bakst said. “Then from a timing perspective, with the way that things are going with respect to climate change, and how fast things are moving in a negative direction, this is the perfect time for the residential building industry to show people that it is possible to build a home with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings consume 40 percent of the nation’s energy and 25 percent of the nation’s freshwater.

Bakst said Array’s net-zero energy homes will produce as much energy as they consume as well as meet aggressive targets for water conservation and indoor air quality. Each house will also be third party certified based on the National Green Building Standards.

“The houses that we’re talking about in Array, which are very achievable to build, are about 90 percent more efficient than a standard code-build house,” Bakst said. “What makes it net-zero energy is when you add in the solar.”

According to Array’s website, PV solar panels will be specifically sized for each energy-efficient home in the Array neighborhood. Array’s 12 lots are positioned with a north-south orientation to make maximum use of the sun and its natural energy.

In addition to solar panels, Bakst said these homes will also have continuous insulation to keep utility costs even lower. While initially more expensive to build, she said these homes are more economical in the long run.

“You do spend more money upfront but you’re spending less money to maintain your house,” Bakst said. “You have almost zero energy costs. With the net-zero energy model, there will be net metering. So each house will be tied to the grid with Duke Power, but the excess energy that you’re creating goes to the grid for storage and then for peak times for peak demand – when you need more energy – it [the energy] gets called back from the grid.”

Bakst said Duke Power will charge $14 dollars a month for each house to be connected to the grid, and that will be the sole utility cost. Other standard utilities like water and sewer will come at no additional cost as a well and septic system will be built into the neighborhood.

While net-zero energy houses are being built sporadically, Bakst said the Array neighborhood will be one of the first of its kind in the whole country. Right now, she has one of the twelve Array lots reserved. Bakst said she hopes to get the storm water and erosion control permits approved by January – the next step into making her net-zero energy neighborhood a reality.

For more details about the Array neighborhood, click here.

Orange County Artists Guild Annual Studio Tour

Orange County Artists Guild Annual Studio Tour


Whether you are an art aficiondo or are just looking for something fun and unique to do in November, you won’t want to miss the Orange County Artists Guild 22nd Annual Open Studio Tour, which will be held on November 5-6 and 12-13.

Hillsborough has a vibrant community of artisans and is home to the Orange County Artists Guild, a non-profit organization of artists supporting artists. In fact, there are an estimated 700 to 800 diverse artists in Orange County, most of whom have relatively few opportunities to be seen and appreciated in the county. Thanks to the Annual Tour, the artists enjoy direct contact with supporters and gain a much wider exposure of their work. Tourists enjoy meeting the artists in a casual atmosphere, viewing an extensive range of the artist’s work, and being able to ask questions about the artisan’s process.

For this year’s studio tour, the Guild will present 83 artists at 66 studio locations throughout Orange County. Art from all participating members will be on display at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts and Franklin Street Arts Collective Galleries.

Hillsborough Gallery of Arts 121 N. Churton Street, Hillsborough, NC
Art on display October 24th – November 13th.

Franklin Street Arts Collective, 109 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC
Art on display November 1st-13th.
Opening reception on November 3rd, 6-8 pm.

The Guild’s mission is to increase the visibility and recognition of area artists and craftspeople. The Guild was founded in 2000 by a group of diverse artists who participated in the Orange County Open Studio Tour, a popular annual event in Hillsborough since 1995. The group is primarily made up of seasoned visual artists, but also embraces emerging artists who want more understanding of what it means to produce and exhibit their work. The Guild does not place any restrictions on its members’ art or craft media, content, or style of work.

The Guild was the first participant in the Orange County Arts Commissions arts incubation program, which aids local arts groups to become self-sustaining over a three-year period. In 2003, the Guild became an independent non-profit organization, with a Board of eight artist members serving two-year terms.

The Orange County Arts Guild is providing PDFs of the full brochure (16 pages) and the 2-page map; simply click to download. (Brochure Correction: Studio #65, Michael Everhart and Will Stanley of Five Forks Studio, are 1st weekend only!)

They are also providing a google map of the studios that can help you with driving directions while you’re out on the tour.

Don’t miss this opportunity to experience and support the artists right in your backyard! For more information on the tour, visit the Orange County Arts Guild. For more information about living in Hillsborough, visit

NC School Report Cards, Part 2: Orange County District

NC School Report Cards, Part 2: Orange County District

rcardsNorth Carolina schools have received their 2015-2016 School Report Cards, which provide school performance grades and data on student achievement, school safety and technology, teacher quality, and more.

This is the second in a series of blog posts Real Estate Experts will publish covering School Report Card results for school districts throughout Triangle.

The Orange County School District is comprised of thirteen schools: seven elementary (including one year-round school), three middle schools, and three high schools. These schools serve approximately 7,500 students.  According to the Orange County schools’ Report Card data, 62.2 percent of students rated proficient last year, with just under 60 percent in 2014-15. But just over half of students–53 percent–scored high enough to be considered college and career-ready in 2015-16. Orange County school system’s four-year graduate rate rose to 89.3 percent this year, up from 88 percent in 2014-15.

Of the 115 public school districts in North Carolina, the Orange County School District rose from 36th to 27th in the state rankings this year. “I am very proud of our students and staff for their hard work and dedication, as well as their openness to change,” said Superintendent Todd Wirt. “While we are encouraged by the gains we have made, we are more focused than even on improving academic achievement for all of our students and working toward closing of achievement gaps that have persisted for too long.”

 Math scores for third through eighth grade students showed growth in proficiency among all student groups. The largest gains in math were experienced by minority students: African-American +7%, Hispanic/Latino by +8%, White +4%, Limited English Proficient +7%, Students with Disabilities +4%, and Economically Disadvantaged +8%.


The Orange County School District stated it was proud to announce it has no “Low Performing Schools,” as identified by North Carolina guidelines. All Orange County Schools earned a School Performance Grade of C or above. Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary School raised its school performance score by 12 points, moving from a D in last year to a C in 2015-16.  Efland-Cheeks Global experienced growth in all areas: reading proficiency increased by 7%, math by 17%,  and science by 24%. “Our staff, our community, and our students are committed to being successful; I’m so proud of the work our school community has done,” said Principal Kiley Brown.

All schools maintained or increased their letter grade on the school performance grade. Three schools grew by a letter grade. Each of the comprehensive high schools in the district rose from a grade of C to B. Cedar Ridge High School increased its school performance grade by 9 points, and Orange High increased its school performance grade by 6 points.

Stay tuned for our next post in this series, which will cover the Durham County School District School Report Cards.

You can also search the comprehensive database provided on our website to see the grades schools received over the last three years and whether the school exceeded, met or did not meet its expected academic growth.