KB Home to build state’s first “microgrid communities” in the IE

Test project of 219 sf homes in Menifee to be all-electric, solar- and battery-powered

KB Home's Jeffrey Mezger & KB Home’s Shadow Mountain in Menifee (KB Home, Linkedin, Getty, KB Home/CC BY-SA 4.0/via Wikimedia Commons)
KB Home's Jeffrey Mezger & KB Home’s Shadow Mountain in Menifee (KB Home, Linkedin, Getty, KB Home/CC BY-SA 4.0/via Wikimedia Commons)

KB Home has big ambitions for tiny dwellings.

The developer aims to build the state’s first all-electric, solar- and battery-powered “microgrid community” of single-family homes, to be located in the Inland Empire.

The Westwood-based developer has filed plans to build 219 energy sustainable homes in Menifee, 15 miles north of Temecula in Riverside County, the Los Angeles Business Journal reported.

Though the firm hasn’t given a timeline for the project, the houses will be built in KB’s new Oak Shade and Durango neighborhoods at its Shadow Mountain master planned community.

Each house would be equipped with smart technology and a backup battery, plus community microgrid connectivity.

The combined features would provide a self-supporting energy system to power each neighborhood, with a community battery that can operate independently during a grid outage.

The new KB houses would also feature advanced technology to allow homeowners to cut energy use by 40 percent, while lowering costs.

Owners can either switch to battery energy use during a power outage or disconnect from the grid to ensure essential energy functions can continue to operate.

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All microgrid homes would be wired to be smart-charger ready. In addition, some of the houses would be testing bidirectional electric vehicle chargers. During a power outage, the chargers would allow an EV to help power the home.

App-based monitoring would allow homeowners to track and control energy use and storage.

The homebuilder has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy, SunPower, the Advanced Power and Energy Program at UC Irvine, Southern California Edison, Schneider Electric and Kia to test its new microgrid system.

“Working with industry and academic leaders, we plan to explore how these energy-smart connected communities can help protect the environment and turn our homes into their own power centers designed to deliver resiliency while also reducing the overall cost of long-term homeownership,” said Jeffrey Mezger, chairman and CEO of KB Home, in a statement.

The project partners aim to measure the energy efficiency of each microgrid community and compare it to traditional residential solar neighborhoods.

They will research how energy storage batteries and bidirectional EV chargers can work together to maximize efficiency and maintain power. Their research will also look at how to build all-electric homes to more effectively meet the requirements of future energy codes.

— Dana Bartholomew

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