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.