Image credit KB Homes
How could a TreeHugger not click onto a post title like KB Home proves that solar power isn't just for treehuggers. The monster builder is putting 1.4 kilowatt solar panels as a standard feature on every house in a California subdivision. KB's solar partner Sunpower says "By offering solar power systems as a standard feature on their award-winning homes, KB Home is providing homebuyers a secure, reliable alternative to electricity sourced from non-renewable fossil fuels." KB Homes says "The photovoltaic solar systems will help KB homeowners reduce their monthly energy bills and cost of homeownership for years to come, while also benefiting the environment."
KB Homes Enclave in Eastvale Image credit Abogo
This reminded me so much of Kaid Benfield's post from last summer about a so-called "net zero" community way outside of Chicago. He ran the location through Abogo, the wonderful google mashup that generates estimates of transportation costs and CO2 impact.
Taking a leaf from Kaid's book, I did the same for the Enclave, KB Homes' 90 acre gated subdivision in Eastvale, California. Abogo came up solid red, putting it in the highest transportation cost bracket in the country.
Image credit Abogo
So when KB says that solar panels will "reduce their monthly energy bills and cost of homeownership for years to come, while also benefiting the environment," who are they kidding? It is the worst kind of what Peter Calthorpe called "Green sprawl" -the same old car dependent land-chewing development that developers have built for years, with a solar panel on top. Sunpower's President calls this an "exciting initiative to help their homeowners take control of their energy usage" but the biggest element of a homeowner's energy usage here is the $ 11,000 that they are spending on gasoline every year. They have no control over that, and no options.
aerial view of enclave subdivision
Tainted Green thinks this is great "for those that really hate giving part of their paycheck to a power company each month." Instead, lets all give it to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela and Alberta. That's so much better.
More on Green Sprawl:
For Saving Energy, Like Real Estate, The Three Most Important Things Are Location, Location and Location
Peter Calthorpe Explains Urbanism in an Age of Climate Change
How Urbanism, Building Efficiency, and Cleaner Cars Can Solve Climate Change (Book Review)