KB Home launches microgrid community with DOE

  • November 16, 2022
  • William Payne

Homebuilder KB Home has launched a solar and battery-powered microgrid community in California in partnership with the US Department of Energy (DOE). The aim is to test new energy efficient technologies in a new build community. The microgrid community, which is all electric, is located across Oak Shade and Durango communities in Menifee, California.

In addition to the US Department of Energy, other members of the programme include SunPower Corp., the Advanced Power and Energy Programme at the University of California, Irvine, Southern California Edison, Schneider Electric and Kia.

Each of the new homes will be equipped with smart technologies and a backup battery, plus community microgrid connectivity. These features are designed to work together to provide a self-supporting energy system that powers a specific neighbourhood with a community battery and has the capability to operate independently during a grid outage.

Benefits of the microgrid community include reduced energy usage; protection form outages; smart charger wiring; real-time app monitoring reduced environmental impact; and independent third party certification.

For home users, technology coupled with home design and certifications will enable homeowners to decrease energy usage by 40%, while potentially lowering energy costs. Homeowners will be able to battery energy use in case of an outage and disconnect from the grid to help maintain the home’s essential energy functions continue to operate for a certain period of time. All homes will be wired to be smart charger ready. Some homes in the communities will be testing bidirectional electric vehicle (EV) chargers, which, during a power outage, enables the EV to be another source of energy. Homeowners will also have app-based monitoring and control to customise and track energy usage and storage. The new technologies and app based monitoring will in combination help lower homebuyers’ carbon footprint, and each connected home will be certified as a DOE-designated Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH), reflecting a high level of performance with rigorous requirements that build on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR, WaterSense and Indoor airPLUS programmes, and will be verified by a qualified third party.

The project partners will conduct research to measure the energy efficiency of each energy-smart connected community in comparison to traditional residential solar communities. They will explore how to build all-electric homes that will more effectively meet the requirements of future energy codes and how an energy-smart connected community, energy storage batteries and bidirectional EV chargers can work together to maximise efficiency and comfort — and help keep the power on for a certain period of time at a community level. The research will continue throughout and beyond the development cycle of both communities.

“KB Home has been at the forefront of deploying advanced technologies and energy solutions for the benefit of our homebuyers. In our pursuit of building better homes, better communities and a better future, we believe that our all-electric, solar- and battery-powered homes at Oak Shade and Durango in Menifee, California have the potential to deliver significant energy savings,” said Jeffrey Mezger, KB Home’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “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 centres designed to deliver resiliency while also reducing the overall cost of long-term homeownership.”