California's cutting edge legislation started driving builders into a green building mentality that is shaking up the entire industry and driving change coast to coast. These volume builders are providing housing that incorporates innovation in energy performance.

ABC Green Home 3.0 Prepares for California's Net Zero Energy Regulations
The third iteration of The ABC (Affordable, Buildable, Certifiable) Green Home was designed by Danielian Associates Architecture + Planning, to serve as a learning tool as California prepares to meet 2020 mandates that require all new homes to be “Net Zero Energy,” meaning they must produce more energy than they consume. The ABC Green Home Project’s mission is simple: to design and build a series of Net-Zero-Energy homes that serve as examples of high-performance, energy-efficient homes, as California marches towards implementation of its Net-Zero regulations in 2020 all while giving back to the veteran community.

Production builder uses green demonstration homes for R&D
KB Homes, one of the largest homebuilders in the United States, uses its high-performance demonstration homes as research and development opportunities to refine the building practices and technologies that find their way into its production homes.

In 2014, KB Home launched its latest demonstration home, the Double ZeroHouse 3.0 in the Fiora at Blackstone Development in El Dorado Hills, California. It was the first net-zero KB home with renewable energy generation and storage capabilities provided by SunPower; high-tech and energy-efficient products from Ford's MyEnergi Lifestyle initiative; and a fully-integrated, network-connected home experience with resource-efficient, state-of-the-art appliances from Whirlpool Corporation.

The Double ZeroHouse 3.0 was designed to achieve net-zero energy usage — the result of a whole-home approach to first reduce the energy load of the home by incorporating advanced features and systems like increased insulation; upgraded HVAC units; high-performance windows; and LED lighting.

The KB home earns its ‘Double' ZeroHouse title through its dual emphasis on water as well as energy efficiency.

Mass-market builder Pulte developing zero net energy home prototype
To prepare to meet tough building codes, PulteGroup Inc. is producing a zero net energy (ZNE) home prototype in Northern California.

Pulte says it is the largest builder to participate in a pilot aimed at building new homes to achieve maximum energy efficiency and utility grid load reduction.

“The Pulte ZNE prototype will help guide and create best practices for the Company in building more energy efficient new homes in California and, ultimately, across the nation,” said Ryan Marshall, president of PulteGroup. “Our goal for this prototype is to help define the most efficient path to building zero net energy homes that effectively balance constructability, cost and quality.”

The Pulte ZNE home prototype embraces California’s long-term zero net energy goals by leveraging advanced design, construction and on-site renewable energy solutions. The home’s design combines near airtight building methods, highly efficient insulation, HVAC, lighting technologies and more, with on-site solar energy production to offset the home’s energy consumption.

First Net Zero Energy Apartments Go Live in Los Angeles
Owned by Houston-based developer Hanover Company and designed by TCA Architects, this project is the first multi-unit apartment building in the City of Los Angeles that allows renters to receive direct savings on their electric bills from rooftop solar installations owned and operated by the developer.

It is also the first project in Los Angeles where people can rent "eco-green" units designed to be highly sustainable, energy efficient, and net zero energy by producing enough solar power to meet each tenant's annual electricity needs.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Zero Energy Ready Home certification program is helping disseminate the knowledge to build to this standard other states, so builders don't have to reinvent the wheel.

"The goal is to have the have the house built, so it is zero energy ready with a solar-ready construction set of details that are low cost, no cost and effectively avoid disruption and cost penalties in the future for adding a solar system," said Sam Rashkin, chief architect with the Building Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy.

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