KB Home

ZeroHouse 2.0, San Antonio, Texas

In October 2011, KB Home, one of the largest Energy Star builders in the nation, unveiled its first net-zero energy home in San Antonio, Texas. Dubbed ZeroHouse 2.0, the home is a result of a partnership with Build San Antonio Green (BSAG), a nonprofit that works with builders and developers to certify green homes.

“We want buyers to understand that ZeroHouse 2.0 is more than just a concept home,” said Ken Langston, KB Home’s Central Division president. “It is our way of showing that it is possible to buy a home that outperforms typical new and resale homes, reduces their monthly electric bill significantly, and potentially gets it all the way down to zero.”

Achieving such drastic savings, said Langston, required a “whole-home approach.” KB Home started with Energy Star standards and added more elements—such as a solar water heater, additional insulation in the attic and walls, a high-performance heating and cooling system, and solar panels—to increase efficiency. And because BSAG standards include indoor air quality, only paints and carpets with low levels of volatile organic compounds were used.

The biggest challenge in developing the ZeroHouse 2.0, according to Langston, was figuring out how to take an existing floor plan and achieve net zero with limited structural changes. The need to place the ductwork in conditioned space, for example, meant coffering the ceiling in the living area, but Langston said it ended up creating an attractive architectural feature. In addition, KB Home worked with home energy raters Green Zone to bring down the HERS rating while limiting the number of solar panels on the home.

ZeroHouse 2.0 stands out in a state that already leads the nation in construction of new Energy Star–qualified homes. And ZeroHouse 2.0 could be coming to a community near you. KB Home’s national rollout will continue through 2012.