Images credit KB Homes
Whenever KB Home or another subdivision builder introduces a new "green" model I do my usual rant about how it is just lipstick on a pig or polishing a turd. But in fact, perhaps it is time that I acknowledge that perhaps the building industry is actually changing, and it is not just about putting a solar cherry on top of the same old sundae.
It is in the wording that KB uses in their press release:
Visitors to a KB Home community with a ZeroHouse 2.0 model home can take a guided tour that highlights the many features, some visible and some hidden behind the walls, that help reduce energy costs. Higher efficiency is the result of a whole-home approach, from the inside out, that begins with increased insulation, upgraded HVAC systems and dual-pane, low-e windows and ends with solar panels on the roof.
That is what is important, the "whole home approach." It starts in the right place, with insulation, and ends with solar panels.
Richard Defendorf of Green Building Advisor adds more information:
The ZeroHouse 2.0 model built in the Tampa area earned a HERS rating of -5, meaning its 5.9-kW PV system is expected to generate surplus electricity when the home is in normal use. Whether that actually happens will depend on occupant behavior. The house is cooled by a 19 SEER Carrier heat pump. It also is equipped with a Rainwater Hog modular rainwater collection system, which can be used for landscape irrigation as well as an emergency water supply for the home's occupants.
He also notes that the full Zerohouse package will add about $ 50,000 to the cost of the house, which is probably mostly in the solar stuff on the roof.
Having been in the business for a couple of years, I am fascinated by the plan; the houses start at a modest 1443 square feet.
The living room and dining room have gone away, replaced by the one big great room across the rear, and the walk-in pantry has returned, as I have predicted it would.
KB has also introduced an "Energy Performance Guide that shows you our homes' energy efficiency and an estimate of your average monthly energy costs". This is something that we have been promoting for years.
Other things have not changed; the front façade with a giant garage door, one tiny window and an impermeable concrete driveway filling half the lot. This isn't how you build a community, when everyone is hiding in the back. I could go on about how bad this kind of planning is, how antisocial this kind of design is. But every time I do, the commenters jump in and tell me that this is what Americans want. So I will leave the last word to CEO Jeffry Mezger:
With the introduction of the ZeroHouse 2.0 program, we are now able to offer homebuyers a home that outperforms typical new and resale homes, reduces their monthly electric bill significantly and potentially gets it all the way down to zero.
I can't complain about that.
More on Houses:
Lipstick On A Pig Dept: KB Homes Slapping Solar on California Subdivision
Martha Stewart's Builder Concept Home 2011: Time To Redefine What We Mean By Green
Lennar & KB Homes Go Solar in San Antonio
Quote of the Day: Building Green Houses is Like "Polishing a Turd"