Pardee Homes has done it again. The California-based builder has created yet another award-winning design that puts green building on parade, challenging big builder beliefs that green building can't be done in a production setting.

The 3,622-square-foot Plan 3, with a Colonial Monterey elevation, is the builder's latest and greatest testament to green and energy-efficient building. The model, tricked out with the company's Living Smart features—including energy and water-efficient products, sustainable materials, and health-conscious products—and located within the environmental-friendly, master-planned Santa Rosa community in Southern California, helped Pardee clinch its latest green accolade. Last month, the builder was honored as the production home builder of the year at the NAHB's green building conference.

According to Joyce Mason, Pardee's vice president of marketing, the four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath model's crowning jewel is its standard-issue solar electricity system. A 2.4Kw photovoltaic roof panel system is incorporated into a flat-tile roof. Mason says the design, which makes the system barely noticeable from the street, “helps to overcome one of the stigmas of solar: Most people are afraid it's not going to look good on their home.”

However, historically, the biggest deterrent to solar energy has been cost. Photovoltaic cells can add between $12,000 and $15,000 to the price of a house, Mason says. “When people have to choose between PV cells or granite countertops, it's hard choice to make,” she explains.

But with a base price in the $900,000s, the solar-standard home isn't exactly a bargain. However, Mason says that the investment pays for itself in roughly seven years and attests that homeowners will see an immediate savings in the monthly energy bills. “It's probably an extra $30 a month for the photovoltaic system, because you rolled it into the mortgage, but you save $35, $40, $50 a month [in energy].”

And because the home comes equipped with a digital energy monitor located in the second-floor laundry room, homeowners can be especially vigilant about their energy-consumption. Excess energy generated by the photovoltaic system is fed back to the utility, which pays the homeowner back for the unused energy.

Sun Spot

  • Pardee's 3,622-square-foot Plan 3 model is loaded with environmentally friendly features, including a standard photovoltaic energy system.
  • Energy savings on the four-bedroom home will offset the cost of the nearly $15,000 solar energy system in about seven years.
  • The home's base price in the $900,000s also reflects its location in an environmentally friendly, master-planned community near San Diego.