We already know that building sustainable homes in 2020 will have different requirements than it does today. But what does it look like in 2050? The Greenbuild KB Home ProjeKt envisioned the future of sustainability, outperformed 2020 requirements and even stretched imagination to think out to the year 2050.
These achievements and forward thinking are why the home is being recognized by Environmental Leader as Top Project of the Year as part of the Product & Project Awards program. This program recognizes excellence in products/services and projects that provide companies with environmental, sustainability and energy management benefits.
The project was a product of KB Home’s leadership in sustainability along with partners BUILDER, KTGY, and the Virginia Tech Center for Design Research School of Architecture + Design. Many elements of the collaboration and innovation that went into creating this award-winning home were captured through stories and videos that can be accessed at www.builderonline.com/kbhomeprojekt.
The home, which displayed at the 2016 Greenbuild Conference and Expo, achieved net zero by using advanced materials and design techniques and solar to generate its own energy. Some of the highlights from the performance of the Greenbuild KB Home ProjeKt are:
- It achieves 7 to 20% less heating energy than today’s home.
- It uses 10 to 30% less cooling energy than today’s home.
- It produces 70% more lifetime energy with a new solar system than the average solar system currently on the market.
- It uses new fuel cell technology that converts natural gas into electricity, without burning gas, and without carbon emissions.
- It stores electricity from the solar system and fuel cell for use during grid power outages.
- It has an advanced building envelope with vacuum-insulation panels provide very high R-values without significant increase to the depth of exterior wall assemblies.
- It uses a low-emissivity housewrap product in conjunction with an airspace and exterior cladding to provide a lower emission surface that adds an effective R-value to a wall system (up to R-2).
- A housewrap and fiber-cement siding combination achieves up to R-40.
- Advanced air and pest barriers provide a sealed building envelope that protects the home from moisture, energy leaks, and pests.
- A tankless water heater with an on-demand re-circulation pump to prevent hot water waste for the home and save precious time for the homeowner.
- Greywater reuse from shower and laundry in toilets or on a yard.
- A rainwater harvesting system.
- The home goes beyond indoor air quality to new frontiers such as lighting optimized for circadian rhythms, and vertical garden “grow wall.”
- Open-floor plan, large windows and enhanced indoor/outdoor living improves daylighting and reduces energy demand.
- Front patio and window awnings adjust themselves intelligently to reduce solar heat gain to maximize daylighting.
“We are proud of our long history of innovation and our role as an industry leader in sustainable home building,” said Jeffrey Mezger, KB Home’s chairman, president, and CEO. “Many of the concepts presented in the KB ProjeKt, including highly energy- and water-efficient designs and appliances, resource-conserving materials, smart-home technology, and healthy-home features, are incorporated into every home that KB Home builds. With the KB ProjeKt, we holistically envisioned how homes and construction could evolve in the future to suit the needs of a changing demographic in an integrative, flexible, and organic way.”
And, just as the future will continue on the path to more sustainable solutions, there also will be the ever present need for affordability. KB Home focused on keeping the cost under control. When it comes to the walls, the roof, and the floor design, adding more stuff reaches a point of diminishing returns and may not make it any more energy efficient or sustainable.