“I’m a strong believer that technology, in its different forms and stages over the years, is a game-changer for the homebuilding business,” says Jacob Atalla of KB Home.
The now VP of sustainability initiatives at top high-volume builder KB Home should know. Technology has been a part of Atalla’s career for more than three decades. The architect by education has always been interested in utilizing the latest technology in homes and buildings, more so than designing trendy architectural styles.
“Certainly, the rapid technological evolution (and certain revolutions as well) have meant that our industry has had to constantly evaluate the opportunities, trends and standards and adapt to them based on three key principles,” says Atalla.
Atalla’s 3 Key Principles for Installing Tech
- Identify the best overall value to customers.
- Given everything that we know at the moment, decide how to best future-proof the community or home.
- Partner well with tech companies, trades and integrators.
Those are the steps Atalla uses at KB Home, and they’re obviously working.
As a high volume homebuilder of primarily first-time homes, KB is a leader in technology adoption. That’s rare for a HiVol builder.
“We look for tech products that don’t interrupt the production cadence and don’t impact the affordability of these homes. Our relations tend to be long-term with just one or two integrators per market, and that helps us in streamlining the infusion of technology in homes,” advises Atalla.
They work together to pick the right technology at a price they can agree on and figure out the appropriate process for installing it. KB Home’s integrators also work closely with the homebuilder’s design studios to educate homebuyers on available tech and help them personalize their homes to fit their needs and goals.
A Focus on Sustainability
Most recently, Atalla has been focused on sustainability initiatives at KB Home.
“We strongly believe in the synergies between efficiency and smart,” he says. For example, the Wiser Home Management System informs homeowners of their energy usage patterns and gives them tools to adjust that usage.
KB also took an interest in smart appliances such as a smart fridge that notifies the homeowner when the fridge has been left open.
4 Elements of Sustainability Program
- Energy efficiency and renewable energy
- Water conservation
- Healthy home
- Smart home
“During my presentation at a TecHome conference a couple of years ago, I called these things ‘digital insulation.’ Now, we are looking for these technologies to become more thoughtful and to adapt to the ‘do it for me’ movement,” says Atalla.
By “digital insulation,” Atalla means the technology beneath a home’s insulation.
He adds that this kind of tech can contribute to a healthier home, particularly with the help of an increased number of environmental sensors in homes.
Atalla notes that in order for these devices to reach their full potential, builders must put an emphasis on inter-communications and interoperability, especially now with all of the new devices entering the marketplace.