Image credit: Lennar Homes
Earlier this summer, San Antonio, Texas made a big splash in the renewable energy world, announcing that plans for a 50MW solar power plant were being upgraded to 400MW on the basis of surprisingly favorable costs. Now the city looks set to make another move toward mainstream clean energy, as two of its largest home builders start offering solar power as an option on new homes in the area. My San Antonio reports that both Lennar and KB homes are now offering solar power as an option on new homes in the San Antonio area. Both companies have opened model homes featuring solar panels, and they are leveraging economies of scale to offer reduced prices on solar panels to new home owners. The offer of cheaper, easier installation of solar panels should, say solar advocates, create a significant boost to what has so far been a niche green building product in the San Antonio area. Anita Ledbetter Devora, executive director of Build San Antonio Green, explained more to My San Antonio:
So far San Antonio has 382 photovoltaic units, mostly on homes, Sinkin said. Another 70 are awaiting approval from CPS. A few years ago, though, the city had hardly any solar units -- just five systems in 2008, according to information from CPS and Solar San Antonio.
Devora said she hopes that number will start to grow quickly, and was happy to see solar offered on homes where the utility bill savings can make a real difference in a household's budget. "We're seeing a huge change in the residential market," she said.
This is not, of course, the first time that mainstream home builders have used solar to differentiate themselves. Lennar has already made solar power a standard item on its California homes, and KB has put solar as standard on another California subdivision (although its ultra-poor walkability score lead Lloyd to describe this as a "lipstick on a pig" move...)
There's no doubt that green building is about much more than slapping solar panels on the roof. But it's hard to see the increasing availability, and affordability, of solar power to the mainstream housing market as anything but a good thing. Now if we could just have sidewalks and decent transit too...