Model Home Tours: Orange State Going Green?

Model Home Tours: Orange State Going Green?

Story Highlights

  • You’ve got to love the bold orange stripes in this upstairs flex space in a David Weekley Celebration model.

I was in Florida recently for our CE Pro Summit, and I stayed a few days to visit with family and tour some homebuilders’ model homes. And what I found was totally incongruent with some of the area’s news reports.

I had just told a ballroom full of custom electronics experts, in a session about Luxury Builder Connections, that homebuilders are building far more eco-friendly and energy efficient homes. Then I took the weekend off and scanned the newspapers at my dad’s house in central Florida. A local couple is being sued by a homeowners’ association for planting environmentally friendly plants and grass that don’t use a lot of water and fertilizer, because their landscaping choices violate the HOA’s bylaws.

An editorial in the Orlando Sentinel called for water conservation measures and bans against polluting water sources, a problem in the Sunshine State. The editorial cited tough climbs to convince Floridians to conserve energy and water.

A 2014 University of Florida poll found that only 29 percent of respondents said they would time their showers to save water, and nearly half admitted to running the water continuously while washing dishes.

Reality check time, I thought. People on the west coast, in the northeast and in urban areas may be more inclined to be conscious about their energy and water use, but Florida? That dog don’t hunt here. Let’s fire up the bass boat and go fishin’.

Shea Trilogy kitchen
Airy design combines with energy efficient appliances and solar power in Shea Home’s Trilogy active adult lifestyle communities.

Then I strolled through some new home models. First up was Shea Homes’ Trilogy Active Adult Lifestyle community in Lake County north of Orlando.

Shea provides a base solar package and upgrade leases as part of its SheaXero program, and a Xero display at the models’ location touts everything from energy-efficient Low-E windows to better insulation, water saving fixtures, and energy efficient lighting, among other green features.

Occupancy sensors turn off lights automatically in parts of the models. And a sales person reports strong interest in the solar leasing program.

Related Story: 10 Things Builders Need to Know About Solar

The Xero showroom even discusses healthy home features like low VOC materials, and a video in the models touts rejuvenation, healthy living, and connectivity.

At David Weekley Homes models in Disney’s famously planned Celebration community, home shoppers are greeted with Environments for Living signs at the curbside touting how much these homes save in energy costs.

Upon entering, videos on large flat-panel TVs tout the building science of efficient homes, and in one model an excellent cutaway display of the home’s efficiency systems explains the eco-friendly and energy saving pieces and parts.

David Weekley energy signsDr. Joseph Lstiburek, the founding principal of Building Science Corporation, appears in the video that says that 80 percent of environmental damage is caused by energy, and that an energy efficient home is the greenest thing we can do for the natural world.

Lstiburek also does work for the DOE’s Building America Program, which encourages the development of energy efficient innovations in the homebuilding industry.

And before you poo-poo Celebration as a failed utopic vision with outdated technology, keep in mind that the new townhomes and single family homes will be the first to upgrade to super fast fiber-to-the-home connectivity.

New and future Florida residents are being treated to greener and more energy efficient homes, even if big environmental and conservation battles loom in that state.

The green and efficient tide is rolling, and in some of the most unexpected places.

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