KB Home launches MPG-like label for home energy efficiency


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Los Angeles-based homebuilder KB Home is taking a page from the car industry by slapping an efficiency label on all its new properties.

Like automakers, who are rolling out a legion of electric and hybrid vehicles, residential construction companies are betting that going green will give them an edge in a tough market.


Similar to the miles-per-gallon labels that help gauge the fuel efficiency of a vehicle, the new KB Home tags will show where a new home ranks on an energy-efficiency scale.

The “Energy Performance Guide” -- or EPG -- will also feature an estimate of the home’s monthly gas and electric bill and will be displayed in all model homes.

“Over the last several years, we’ve been pushing the envelope on making our homes more energy-efficient,” said chief executive Jeffrey Mezger. “We do it for one reason: Because we have to compete with resale and differentiate ourselves. That’s our biggest competitor.”

New homes tend to be more energy-efficient than existing homes, but resale and foreclosed properties often have a much lower overall price, Mezger said.

But the trade off could be a massive difference -- hundreds of dollars even -- in monthly utility bills, he said.

“In the past, you had no clue how much it was going to cost you to live in your home until you’d lived there a while,” he said. “This could be a game-changer for how people think about buying a home. With today’s consumer, every dollar is important.”


On the EPG scale, the average new home rating around the country will be about 100, while resale homes will get about 130. Properties from KB Homes, however, generally get a score around 82.

But in California, the label will be slightly different. Instead of a flat ranking, each KB Home property will be shown as a percentage improvement in energy efficiency compared with a typical new home built to state standards.

Each home will undergo a third-party inspection to determine its ranking and to confirm that it meets the government’s Energy Star guidelines.

Homebuilders around the country have been experimenting more with green building ploys. Last month, KB Home revealed a so-called “net-zero” concept home in Florida, which produces more energy than it consumes with the help of solar photovoltaic tiles, a solar thermal system, foam insulation and a heat-recovery ventilator.


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KB Home reports an unexpected profit in the fourth quarter

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo (top): Example of California EPG label from KB Home

Photo (below): KB Home framer installing the structural thermo-ply sheathing along with double-pane low-E windows -- two components that dramatically improve the energy efficiency of a home. Credit: KB Home