Miami-based builder Lennar will build 180 homes at Babcock Ranch, a master-planned community in southwest Florida that will be powered by an onsite, 443-acre photovoltaic system, according to The Real Deal.
The project's duplex homes will be priced around $180,000 and its single-family homes will start around $220,000.
- The development has capacity for 19,500 housing units and roughly 50,000 residents, and it will include a town center and a school as well as green space and walking trails.
Construction in Florida is on the rise, with a 2016 RCLCO report of the leading for-sale housing markets in the U.S. finding Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami among the top 12 from 2011 to 2015 based on single family permitting. Solar use, in turn, is expanding across the country under federal, state and local government provisions and private industry initiatives.
Estimates put rooftop solar installations in use on more than 1 million homes last year, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association. That number is only expected to grow, with Department of Energy projections placing usage on up to 3.8 million homes by 2020. And with more homeowners taking an active interest in energy efficiency and the presence (though declining) of incentives to increase adoption of PV technology, solar energy systems are gaining traction among owners and builders.
A recent move to include Home Energy Rating System scores in appraisals could up the number of PV installations by making it easier for builders and owners to finance such inclusions. New systems that emphasize aesthetics — one element that has long held back widespread adoption — could help the technology strengthen its position in the market.
Energy-related developments continue to boost construction employment, with the DOE reporting that the sector provided more than 2 million construction jobs in 2016, the majority of which were in the energy-efficiency sub-sector.
One contributor to future employment gains in that market is electric car maker Tesla's planned installation of a 70-megawatt solar farm atop its $5 billion electric battery factory in Nevada. It is expected to be the world's largest rooftop solar array.
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