Going Off The Grid in California
KB Home’s all-electric, solar- and battery-powered, microgrid communities are the first of its kind in the Golden State
For the past two decades, KB Home has made it its mission to deliver innovative housing at an affordable price. The Los Angeles-based builder is a pioneer when it comes to sustainability in the housing industry, ensuring each and every one of its new homes are energy efficient.
“As the leader in energy-efficient homebuilding, KB Home was the first builder to make every home it builds ENERGY STAR® certified, a standard of energy performance achieved by fewer than 10 percent of new homes in America and has built more ENERGY STAR certified homes than any other builder,” said KB Home Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Technology and Strategic Sourcing Dan Bridleman.
With nearly two decades of green building under its belt, the builder recently made headlines in late 2022 as it launched two all-electric, solar- and battery-powered, microgrid communities in California. The homes are within the Oak Shade and Durango communities of the Shadow Mountain masterplanned community in Menifee, California.
“We joined forces with SunPower® and the University of California, Irvine to reimagine what a new-home community would look like if built to reduce carbon emissions, cut energy costs and provide new ways of producing reliable and resilient energy,” Bridleman said. “With a $6.65 million Department of Energy (DOE) grant, microgrid design and support from Schneider Electric™ and Kia and strong collaboration with Southern California Edison® to ensure a smooth transition between grid and off-grid electricity, these innovative homes are now available to the public.”
The research on this project will help measure the energy efficiency of each energy-smart connected community in comparison to traditional residential solar communities.
Setting A New Standard
This new microgrid community is the first of its kind in California, per KB Home. Each energy-smart connected home at these communities will be equipped with smart technologies and a backup battery, plus community microgrid connectivity.
These innovative features are designed to work together to provide a self-supporting energy system that powers a specific neighborhood with a community battery and has the capability to operate independently during a grid outage.” Dan Bridleman, SVP, Technology and Strategic Sourcing, KB Home
“Over the last few years, challenges have increased with power grids throughout the country, making it a topic of conversation. From extreme weather phenomena and outages to price increases and outdated infrastructure, we have an acute awareness that homebuyers need solutions today and in the future,” Bridleman said. “These innovative features are designed to work together to provide a self-supporting energy system that powers a specific neighborhood with a community battery and has the capability to operate independently during a grid outage.”
With these features, homeowners are able to decrease energy usage by 40 percent while also lowering costs. They can also switch to battery energy use in case of an outage and disconnect from the grid to help maintain the operation of a home’s essential energy functions for a certain period of time.
Another unique aspect of the community is that all of the homes will be wired to be electric vehicle (EV) charger ready. Some builds will even be testing bidirectional EV chargers. This enables EVs to be a source of energy during an outage.
The homes at Durango and Oak Shade will also be certified as a Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH). This certification reflects a high level of performance that builds on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR, WaterSense and Indoor airPLUS programs.
Other green qualities of the homes include a SunPower® Equinox® Home Solar System, SunPower® SunVault™ storage system, Schneider Electric™ Square D™ energy center smart panels, Rheem® ProTerra® hybrid electric heat pump water heaters and Carrier® high-efficiency Two-Stage heat pumps.
Formulated for Families
The two neighborhoods are situated near the McCall Boulevard exit off Interstate 215 in Menifee, providing easy access to the area’s major employment centers as well as shopping, dining and entertainment at both Menifee Countryside Marketplace and Menifee Town Center. Oak Shade and Durango are also just minutes away from Mt. San Jacinto College and Brandman University.
Aside from the green, energy-saving qualities of these homes, both Durango and Oak Shade were designed primarily for first-time and first move-up, as well as second move-up and active adult homebuyers.
“The community amenities, which will include a children’s playground, soccer field, basketball court, numerous parks and walking, biking and hiking trails have attracted many families,” Bridleman said.
Oak Shade offers one- and two-story homes that feature large bedroom suites with walk-in closets, as well as loft spaces and covered patios. Oak Shade’s floor plans feature up to five bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths, and range in size from approximately 1,400 to 2,700 square feet. Pricing begins in the $480,000s.
At Durango, the ranch-style homes include design characteristics such as spacious kitchens overlooking large great rooms, expansive bedroom suites with walk-in closets and ample storage space. The community’s one-story floorplans feature up to four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths, and range in size from approximately 2,000 to 2,900 square feet. Pricing begins in the low $500,000s.
As KB Home continues to move the needle to a greener tomorrow, the communities of Durango and Oak Shade are meant to set the blueprint for microgrid communities across the country.
“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 KB Home Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Mezger. “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.”
With a lengthy history that spans nearly seven decades, KB Home is striving to find ways to innovate itself and the rest of the homebuilding community.