Los Angeles-based KB Home recently opened its ZeroHouse 2.0 model, the first home in the Washington, D.C., area to be certified by the Energy Star and Water Sense programs, the company says.
By meeting these standards, the home could save nearly 50,000 gallons of water a year for a family of four and have “an electric bill that could be next to nothing and can be monitored and controlled from your iPhone,” the company adds.
“Home buyers now expect a new home to be energy efficient, and we believe that they will increasingly demand a net-zero-energy home over the next 10 or 20 years,” says Vince DePorre, regional president for KB Home. “KB Home is making this heightened level of energy efficiency an option for our buyers who are ready for this kind of future, today.”
DePorre says energy efficiency features—such as increased insulation and solar hot water—make good sense for home buyers as well as the environment, so the company is introducing more of these types of options in their new Built to Order homes.
The recently completed 4,000-square-foot, net-zero home features four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms and looks like any of the other homes in its Waldorf, Md., sub-division—except that it’s not.
KB used ½-inch of closed cell foam in the wall cavity, which provided a good air seal. It then used R-13 fiberglass batt insulation to finish off the wall. The company also foam-sealed the electrical boxes after drywall was installed and used R-60 attic insulation with a radiant barrier to prevent heat gain.
The builder installed a 9.6 kilowatt solar array on the roof, and used a solar thermal system for hot water. A SEER 19.5 air conditioner ensures energy-efficient heating and cooling, and only compact fluorescent and LED bulbs are used throughout the home. Energy Star appliances are standard.
In addition to plumbing fixtures that are Water Sense certified, the house is equipped with water re-circulators, which use a remote button to circulate the ambient-temperature or cold water sitting in the hot water pipes back to the water heater.
“By combining an efficient building envelope and energy-conserving lighting, appliances, and fixtures with a renewable energy source in the form of a solar power system, the home is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes, allowing for a homeowner’s electric bill to be nearly zero,” the company’s press materials claim. “As such, it is estimated to save homeowners nearly $6,000 in energy costs annually, when compared to a typical resale home.”
The model, as built, would cost in the mid-$400,000.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony held at the home in June, Sam Rashkin, chief architect for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Program, said this is where houses have to go.
“The housing industry takes 25 years to adopt new technology,” he said. “But we need to get other builders on board. I challenge KB Home and other builders to make [high-performance homes] look different than the other houses on the block so people know they are getting something special.”