Florida’s First Solar-Powered Town is Changing the Game

Babcock Ranch features sustainable, technologically advanced homes by Lennar Corp. and PulteGroup


While sustainable, environmentally friendly communities are beginning to pop up across Florida, perhaps no builder or developer has been so innovative in their approach as Kitson & Partners. Founded by former NFL offensive guard Sydney Kitson, the development group has taken the idea of a green community to the next level with an entire solar-powered town, Babcock Ranch. Upon completion in over 20 years, Babcock Ranch is expected to contain 19,500 homes, 6 million square feet of commercial space, 8,500 acres of green spaces and lakes, and 50,000 residents.

Babcock Ranch is a solar-powered town developed by Kitson & Partners and located in Florida.

Construction for the infrastructure of the town began in October 2015 with the installation of the 75mw solar plant. The town center, Founder’s Square, began development in June 2016, and already features restaurants, retail stores, and event spaces. Builders started constructing model homes in Babcock Ranch in August 2016.

Kitson’s vision for the community is nothing less than holistic. All homes in Babcock Ranch must achieve at least a Bronze Standard from the Florida Green Building Certification, and will also be certified by a third party for adherence to the Florida Green Home and Energy Star requirements. Smart architecture is also a big key to sustainability; all of the residences must have deep porches, extended eaves, window overhangs, and raised foundations to combat Florida’s hot temperatures without enormous utility usage.

Pulte’s homes in Parkside feature double-paned low-e windows, LED lighting, smart home technology, and more.

Beyond these standards, the means by which builders achieve their certifications is up to them. As Kitson said, “Community-wide sustainability built right into the infrastructure of the new town – such as utility-scale solar, reclaimed water for 100 percent of irrigation uses, and native landscaping requirements – give builders a head start on the points needed for certification.”

Kitson & Partners hope that their town will serve as an example for sustainable and environmentally-friendly future communities.

Some of the homes in Babcock Ranch will be built by the nation’s second and third-largest public builders: Lennar Corp. and PulteGroup. Lennar is currently building in the Trail’s Edge neighborhood, while Pulte is constructing its homes in Parkside.

Lennar broke ground on Trail’s Edge in late 2017 and expects their first phase to complete in late 2019 with 176 homes. Three home plans are available: Villas starting in the upper $100s, Executive Homes from the low $200s, and Manors from the upper $200s.

Darin McMurray, Southwest Florida Division President for Lennar, described the architectural design: “The exterior elevations of the homes are historically-rooted with design details that pay homage to a classic Old Florida design aesthetic. Emphasizing a front-porch lifestyle to nurture a sense of community, the homes offer design details that create the ideal blend of style and comfort.” The interiors feature spacious great rooms, gourmet kitchens, and ample windows to flood the home with sunlight.

Homes feature spacious great rooms, gourmet kitchens, and huge windows.

Lennar sought to blend Babcock Ranch’s hometown authenticity with forward-thinking innovation by offering their Everything’s Included® program and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ home designs as available upgrades to their homes. These packages include dozens of state-of-the-art upgrades, including energy-efficient green features such as energy-saving wall insulation, 92 percent energy-efficient water heaters, low-VOC carpet and paint, and much more. Connectivity features include home automation products controlled by Amazon Alexa, such as the Echo Dot, the Kwikset® Smart Lock, and the Ring® Video Doorbell. Amazon employees set up all connected devices and offer technical support for 90 days, giving homeowners plenty of help to work out the kinks with their new systems.

8,500 acres of Babcock Ranch are permanently dedicated to green spaces, parks, and lakes.

Just down the street in Parkside, Pulte is building consumer-inspired homes starting from the low $220s. Josh Graeve, Vice President of Sales for Pulte Homes in Southwest Florida, said, “We adapted our exterior home designs to meet the feel and spirit of Babcock Ranch while differentiating Parkside from other Babcock Ranch neighborhoods.” Pulte’s eight home designs focus on the “old Florida” style that Babcock Ranch hopes to embody, with optional front porches, shutters, and metal roofs.

With their prime location just around the corner from Babcock Neighborhood School and a short walk from Founder’s Square, Pulte expects to attract a wide variety of buyers who will need flexible living spaces and floor plans. One- and two-story plans are available, ranging from 1,674 to 3,293 in square footage.

Parkside exemplifies the walkability Babcock Ranch hopes to provide and is located just around the corner from Babcock Neighborhood School.

The interiors are sophisticated and sustainable, featuring double-paned low-e windows, tankless water heaters, LED lighting, and smart home automation. Personalization options are many, thanks to Pulte’s Life Tested® designs, and include gourmet kitchens and walk-in showers. They’ve also taken steps toward sustainability beyond the required minimum to ensure their homes’ efficiency by including a HERS rating for every build.

With both of these preeminent builders contributing to Babcock Ranch’s housing, the town will surely continue to grow along the expected trajectory. Above all else, the builders and developer alike hope that Babcock Ranch will set a new and powerful standard for community development. Said Kitson, “We want to be a model for responsible, sustainable growth and prove that doing the right thing for the environment does not have to be more expensive.”

For more information, visit www.babcockranch.com