KB Home has announced the launch of the first all-electric, solar- and battery-powered microgrid communities in California. The homebuilder has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) alongside many other organizations, including Schneider Electric and Kia to test the new resilient homes located at the Oak Shade and Durango communities within its Shadow Mountain master plan in Menifee, California.
This follows another announcement earlier this year, declaring KB Home’s commitment to the government’s WaterSense program in areas heavily impacted by drought conditions following this year’s record heat waves.
“KB Home has been at the forefront of deploying advanced technologies and energy solutions for the benefit of our homebuyers. In our pursuit of building better homes, better communities and a better future, we believe that our all-electric, solar- and battery-powered homes at Oak Shade and Durango in Menifee, California have the potential to deliver significant energy savings,” said Jeffrey Mezger, KB Home’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.
“Working with industry and academic leaders, we plan to explore how these energy-smart connected communities can help protect the environment and turn our homes into their own power centers designed to deliver resiliency while also reducing the overall cost of long-term homeownership.”
A Look into the Electrification of the Home
Every new KB energy-smart connected home will be equipped with smart technologies, a backup battery and community microgrid connectivity. These features are designed to work together to provide a self-supporting energy system that powers a specific neighborhood with a community battery and can operate independently during a grid outage.
Additionally, these new KB homes come with an array of enhanced features, including:
- Reduced Energy Usage: Innovative technology, coupled with advanced home design and certifications, enable homeowners to decrease energy usage by 40%.
- Battery Protection: Homeowners can switch to battery energy use in case of an outage and disconnect from the grid to help maintain the home’s essential energy functions.
- EV Charger Ready: All homes will be wired to be smart charger ready. Additionally, some homes in the communities will be testing bidirectional electric vehicle (EV) chargers, which, during a power outage, enables the EV to be another source of energy.
- Convenient Real-Time Monitoring: Homeowners will have access to app-based monitoring and control to easily customize and track their energy usage and storage.
- Less Environmental Impact: These home and community features in combination can help lower homebuyers’ carbon footprint and conserve precious natural resources.
Every energy-smart connected home will also be certified as a DOE-designated Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH), reflecting a high level of performance with rigorous requirements that build on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR, WaterSense and Indoor airPLUS programs, and will be verified by a qualified third party.
Charting a Path for Future Climate-Resilient Communities
Partners on the project will conduct research to measure the energy efficiency of each energy-smart connected community in comparison to traditional residential solar communities. Using this information, they will explore how to build all-electric homes that will more effectively meet the requirements of future energy codes.
Additionally this research will work to understand how an energy-smart connected community, energy storage batteries and bidirectional EV chargers can work together to maximize efficiency and comfort while also contributing to energy resilience at a community level. The research will continue throughout and beyond the development cycle of both communities.
KB Home estimates that its sustainably designed homes have cumulatively reduced energy utility bills for its homeowners by an estimated $856 million. Additionally, to date, these KB homes have reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated cumulative 6.3 billion pounds, the equivalent of removing 616,000 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles from the road for one year.
The homebuilder has also delivered over 14,000 solar homes, achieving 44 cumulative megawatts of solar power installed and producing an estimated total of 75 million total kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually in addition to being at the forefront of development in many wellness-themed enhancements to residential homebuilding through its various collaborations.