The Cobblestone by PulteGroup is one of the showcase homes on Innovation Way.
Courtesy PulteGroup The Cobblestone by PulteGroup is one of the showcase homes on Innovation Way.

Babcock Ranch, America’s first solar-powered town located north of Fort Myers, Florida, is taking its commitment to environmental stewardship to the next level. With Innovation Way, nine homesites in the master plan’s Lake Timber neighborhood will serve as a "living laboratory" where three national home builders will experiment and highlight the latest in home innovation.

Seven test homes and two control homes by PulteGroup, Lennar, and D.R. Horton will use smart technology, new materials, and construction practices to create the most energy-efficient, water-conserving, and healthiest homes on the market, reports the developer.

“Innovation Way represents a new era of the American home and the way we live,” says Tom Hoban, president and chief investment officer of Kitson & Partners, the developer of Babcock Ranch. “Since Babcock Ranch’s inception, we’ve vowed to create the most environmentally friendly, sustainable community as possible. Innovation Way is the next step, an unprecedented opportunity for our builder partners to test new and emerging technology and construct smarter, healthier homes.”

Courtesy PulteGroup

On Innovation Way, the builders are testing dozens of forward-thinking innovations, including new stucco and insulation applications, small-duct indoor HVAC systems, whole-home grey water recycling, voice-controlled water faucets, smart appliances, and coronavirus-eliminating air purification.

Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL), which operates the 870-acre, 150-megawatt capacity solar facilities and the 10-megawatt solar-plus-storage system at Babcock Ranch, will collect, analyze, and compare the test homes energy data. The utility will also study the integration of battery storage and smart panel technology in each home, concentrating on the ability of the homes to draw power from batteries and the ability of the homeowner to remotely monitor energy usage.

Through this data collection and analysis over the next two years, the builders will receive actionable insights into which specific features and combinations are viable on a larger scale.

“Ideally the data from our Innovation Way homes will validate our expectations—that these test homes are healthier and reduce energy and water use,” continues Hoban. “We believe innovation is the driving force for affordable, sustainable homes. I applaud our builders and FPL for their spirit of collaboration and exploration in taking this next step with us.”

Courtesy PulteGroup

Additionally, as electric vehicle adoption continues to increase, these homes will be equipped with charging equipment to provide further insight into future home designs.

At the PulteGroup Innovation Way homes, the builder is collaborating with Ford and Sunrun to test how the Ford Intelligent Backup Power system of the F-150 Lightning can serve as a critical lifeline to homeowners during power outages. Both the Home Integration System and the Charge Station Pro are built right into the home. Once plugged in, a fully charged F-150 Lightning can provide the home with power for up to three days during an outage, or as long as 10 days when used in conjunction with rationing or solar power.

“Among our core values is foresight for the future, where we are thinking, planning, and testing for how people will interact and live within their homes,” says Ryan Marshall, president and CEO of PulteGroup. “At Innovation Way, we are making the future right at home with cutting-edge technology and home building strategies that represent a new era of smart, comfortable, healthy, and sustainable living. Over time, the performance of these homes will provide valuable insight into how we innovate our homes and delight buyers well into the future.”