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A Production Builder Offers Net-Zero-Energy Homes

KB Home’s ZeroHouse 2.0 includes photovoltaic power and energy-efficiency measures that go well beyond Energy Star requirements

Posted on Sep 26 2011 by Richard Defendorf

Back in January of this year, during the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida, KB Home unveiled a prototype model, the KB Home GreenHouse, with the following advertising slogan: “An Idea Home Created with Martha Stewart.” Beyond its traditional look and amenities intended to evoke the Martha Stewart style, the builder promoted the home’s main performance feature: net-zero-energy operation.

KB Home has since begun incorporating net-zero-energy performance into its production scheme through an initiative called ZeroHouse 2.0. The idea is to combine energy-efficiency measures with a photovoltaic (PV) system.

The first ZeroHouse 2.0 models are being rolled out this week in Tampa, Florida, and in San Antonio and Austin, Texas. The company says that the ZeroHome 2.0 option will be introduced in more KB Home communities in 2012.

Since the GreenHouse debut, KB Home has edged further into the energy-efficient home market with a commitment to build all its homes to meet the current Energy Star standard. In February, the company announced that it would provide an Energy Performance Guide (EPG) – essentially a “mileage sticker” estimate of monthly energy costs – for each model it offers. EPG energy costs are calculated via the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index, which uses as its reference a comparable home built to the specifications of the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. Such a home would have a HERS rating of 100, and HERS Index scores below 100 indicate greater energy efficiency.

A regional take on ZeroHouse
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.

Bringing a KB Home in the Tampa area to the ZeroHome 2.0 adds about $50,000 to the cost of the house, though the up-charge varies from market to market, company spokeswoman Cara Kane tells GBA. Energy Star-rated homes in the company’s Emerald Oaks subdivision just east of Tampa, range in price from $148,990 for a 1,443-sq.-ft. three-bedroom to $203,990 for a 3,512-sq.-ft. home with three to six bedrooms.

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  1. KB Home

Oct 8, 2011 9:21 AM ET

They are setting you up.
by Greg Hecker

First, if KB home offers financing, ofcourse they will add 50k to a house. According to the DOE, in 2008 the avg. household used @ 1900$/year in energy. 50k with a 6% mortgage is 3000$/year extra JUST FOR INTEREST, you will be sending to KB. Send 1900$/year to power company.......Send 3000$/year just in interest to a financeer and tip toe our energy useage?......hmmmm. Tough one! And when the panels stop working? Ouch. Is that not just GENIOUS for KB home, but kind of stupid for their customers, since even a compounding CD will do better as an investment, leaving you more money to be "green". When people see this, and the numbers start to fall into place with the customers.......KB will do more damage to net zero homes than good. Ofcourse you don't mention the odds that KB also used some type of solar panel incentive or tax credit, meaning it costs more than just 50k$, you have to pay more in taxes to cover the "rebate/incentive/credit" whatever slimy tricky name they give it. People don't understand, you want to live TRUE 'GREEN". Get a TeePee, and live off of the land, compare that with a "net zero" KB home and you start to wonder why builders would dare use the word "green". Oh, to sell crap, like GBA, "green" is nothing but a sales pitch anymore, maybe it has always been that way.

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