Here’s something for all of you who worship at the altar of my special Earth Day buddy, Martha Stewart: Tuesday, in conjunction with the 2011 International Builders Show in Orlando, KB Home and Builder magazine unveiled a new 2,669-square-foot, LEED Platinum certified concept home in Windermere, Fla., that has Martha written all over it. Well, kind of.
Called the KB Home GreenHouse: An Idea Home Created with Martha Stewart, the home — which, in my opinion, appears to be rather insipid-looking with a big ol' garage sticking out — isn’t the first time KB Home has teamed up with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. In fact, KB Home has built more than 1,000 Martha-branded homes since the two entities teamed up back in 2006. However, this will be the first green MSLO/KB Home project.
The green aspects of the KB Home GreenHouse seem to be quite impressive despite my reservations about the home’s humdrum exterior. It’s built as a net-zero energy home (the first KB Home project that generates as much energy as it consumes) with a 9 kilowatt rooftop solar array integrated into the roof’s concrete tiles, energy-efficient Whirlpool appliances, Kohler Water Sense plumbing fixtures, a rainwater collection system, and a composting bin in the kitchen. An electric vehicle charging station is also one of the home's (optional) bells and whistles. And not surprisingly, the rooms are painted with Stewart’s collection of low-VOC paints for The Home Depot. I’m guessing the cabinets are stocked with Stewart's line of green cleaning products as well.
Despite the eco-cred of KB Home (the company was ranked as the number one green homebuilder by Calvert Investments) and the fact that everyone knows and loves Stewart, The Wall Street Journal has its doubts that Stewart's involvement will be enough to encourage green-curious homebuyers to take the plunge:
That KB Home would debut a new Martha Stewart community near Orlando, which has been hard-hit by the housing bust but is showing early signs of recovery, shows the company remains confident that Ms. Stewart's name will sell homes — in this case, with prices starting in the $200,000-range.
But whether Ms. Stewart's stamp of approval will encourage more consumers to buy "green" is unclear, and industry watchers are skeptical. Other home builders that have spent the past few years promoting and rolling out one environmental feature after another have been disappointed that buyers haven't shown great interest. Buyers are far more concerned about location and price and are largely unwilling to pay extra for features that may be hard to understand.
And to make it clear, this isn't some kind of Martha Stewart fantasy home or a downsized version of Cantitoe Corners, Stewart's Bedford, N.Y. compound. It's a straightforward and affordable home influenced by industry trends that actually makes me think of "The Golden Girls" house gone green. The lanai, single-floor layout, wicker furniture, ceiling fans and Florida locale are all to thank for that.
Take a peak at and learn more about the KB Home GreenHouse here. And if you’re in the Orlando-area you can also stop by — the home is open for guided tours at part of the 2011 International Builder’s Show.
What do you think of the home? I can understand paints, cleaning products, crafting supplies, and LED Christmas lights but would you buy a home, green or not, because Martha Stewart was involved with the design? Does celebrity-branding play a part at all in your household purchasing decisions? Take a look around your home to see how many, if any, celeb-branded products you find and report back to me in the comments section. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make breakfast with my Paula Deen cast-iron skillet.
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