Drone landing pads, voice commands: See the house of 2050 (KB Home ProjeKt)

The Orange County Register

September 25, 2016

The homeowner of 2050 won’t park her car in the garage after returning from work. Because of Uber and Lyft, she doesn’t need a car, and there’s no garage either.
Instead, the owner will stroll directly to the front door, touch an app on her smartphone and say, “Arrived.”
The door unlocks. The lights come on. The air conditioning starts to whirl. And the stereo launches a favorite playlist.
The house of the future is taking shape today at a factory in Cypress, the brainchild of Los Angeles-based KB Home, Irvine-based KTGY Architecture, and Washington-based Builder Magazine.
Called the KB Home ProjeKt, the 1,790-square-foot concept home is being built for the upcoming Greenbuild International Conference scheduled for Oct. 5-6 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.


Produced in conjunction with Hanley Wood’s Builder Magazine, the home is the latest in a long line of concept homes the magazine has sponsored at homebuilding conventions over the past 15 years.
Past homes sought to demonstrate new ideas in building materials, designs and energy efficiency.
A concept house that Irvine-based TRI Pointe Homes built for the International Builder Show in Las Vegas last year looked at new designs for millennial homebuyers. Taylor Morrison is designing a house for active senior citizens for January’s show in Orlando.
ProjeKt seeks to depict today’s cutting-edge technologies while providing a vision of the home of 2020 and 2050.
Its overall goal is to show developers how to build a home that’s both environmentally sustainable while still keeping costs at affordable levels.
“What is the house of the future? We filtered the ideas,” said Jacob Atalla, KB’s vice president of sustainability initiatives. “What we came up with ideas that are scalable because that’s how you get costs down.”
Ideas such as a rooftop landing pad for the Amazon drone. Or Tesla backup batteries to store energy from the home’s solar and fuel cell power generators.
And ideas such as factory construction of modular sections that can be removed and replaced almost as easily as you change a light bulb or a water filter.
The house of the future will have movable walls and rotating panels so you can reconfigure it – making the home more amenable to use for vacation rentals.
And it will be watching so that it can anticipate your wants and needs.
“Sensors are going to be more abundant in our home, and the living place becomes more of a service to us,” said John McManus, editor of Builder Magazine and a participant in the project. “The home becomes a place that learns from us.”
The KB Home concept is the latest of myriad attempts to design homes meeting “net-zero” energy standards mandated for 2020, meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes.
It has been under construction for the past five weeks at the Premier Displays and Exhibits factory in Cypress. Soon, it will be dismantled and shipped to the L.A. Convention Center, where it will go on display for the Greenbuild conference.


Here are five highlights:

The house of the future will be prefab and modular, said KB’s Atalla.
• To get future building costs down, components will be built in a factory and assembled at the home site.
• Additionally, walls containing components in the kitchen, the bathroom and the fireplace will be assembled as interchangeable “cartridges” so future remodeling projects will be quick and less expensive.
“Elements like the kitchen cabinets and appliances or the plumbed sections of the bathroom are factory built in cartridges and are completely self-contained,” explained the home’s designer, architect Manny Gonzalez of KTGY Architecture.
“All you have to do is plug them into the foundation and turn them on. As factory built products, the quality control is improved, waste is reduced or eliminated, and construction time can be greatly improved,” Gonzalez said.
• Movable walls on tracks allow occupants to reconfigure a home to add a room or collapse a room to enlarge the great room for entertaining. The television can be mounted on a rotating wall panel so two rooms can share it.

Innovative materials
The house uses a variety of new materials to create a more affordable and sustainable home. Among the products:
• Durable fiber cement siding, counters made from recycled materials, mineral wool for sound insulation, and thermal memory metal awnings that set their own positions to shade windows.
• Vacuum-insulated panels – that is, insulation that’s compressed with a vacuum to make it thinner (and cheaper) but as effective as wider insulation.

Energy and sustainability
All the usual features of a green home are included: Insulated windows and doors, non-polluting, low-volatile organic compound paint, a tankless water heater, solar panels, and water-conserving and energy-efficient appliances.
“The starting point for achieving net-zero is the size of the home,” Gonzalez said.
The flexibility of the movable cartridges “results in being able to get all of those functions in a much smaller house. That in turn reduces energy consumption.”

Other features include:
• Tesla wall-mounted storage batteries for use at night or when there are power outages.
• A BlueGen fuel cell unit that produces electricity by passing natural gas over ceramic fuel cells rather than combustion.

Health and wellness
Health-inducing light and an indoor “grow wall” for fruits, vegetables and herbs are designed to create a more healthful environment. For example:
• Circadian rhythm lighting is aimed at promoting wellness. For example, a command to switch to bed-time mode causes bedroom lighting to switch to a warm-yellow glow that gradually fades as its occupants drift off to sleep.
• A sun lamp simulating the health benefits of natural sunshine.

Gee-whiz features
• To securely store FedEx and UPS packages arriving when nobody’s home, the house has a delivery door.
Not included, but envisioned, is a rooftop landing pad for Amazon drones. The drone would signal a trap door to a small freight elevator, that would lower the packages indoors.
• Smart home system: KB used the Savant Systems product to demonstrate how future homes will control the front door lock, lighting, music, shades and ventilation. Voice commands change settings for dinner, parties, bed and relaxation, Atalla said.
“That’s how the tankless water heater communicates with the lighting,” he said. “It’s through the umbrella of Savant.”