With California’s net-zero-energy mandate on the horizon—requiring new homes to generate as much power as they consume—a team made up of KB Home, KTGY Architecture + Planning, and publisher Hanley Wood late last year provided a glimpse of what they thought a home of the future might look like.
At the 2016 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in Los Angeles during October, the team produced a 1,790-square-foot (166 sq m) modular home that nevertheless was designed to entertain, said Manny Gonzalez, a principal with KTGY in Los Angeles. A movable wall that separated the living room and a secondary bedroom created a living room space expandable by about 12 feet (3.7 m). The wall also rotated to display a media screen on one side and art on the other—depending on the guest list on a particular evening—and the bedroom included a Murphy bed that, when put away, provided a fold-down desk to create an office space.
“The way homes are built today, you’re adding another 200 to 300 square feet [19 to 28 sq m] if you want to entertain and have a den,” Gonzalez explained. “This house had the flexibility to do all of it in one room, which would bring down the cost of construction and reduce the energy load.”
Innovations in design and energy-efficient components included a dishwasher that reuses water from the final rinse for the next load and a “power wall” to store electricity from solar panels. Anticipating an increase in ride sharing and the use of autonomous vehicles, the design team decided to forgo a garage. But it did include a droid landing pad and cold storage for food delivery, amid other innovations.
Though some “forward-thinking” builders are pushing the sustainability envelope—and such a home might be in demand today—it is unlikely that homebuilders en masse will pursue the concept anytime soon, Gonzalez said.
“The rising cost of construction and labor are forcing us to do things in different ways, but unfortunately the homebuilding industry is not quick to adopt change,” he said.