It used to be if you wanted to traipse through a solar-powered house and scope out all the nifty stuff in the mechanical room, you had to be interested in solar enough to go on a solar homes tour sponsored by your local chapter of Solar Energy Industries Association.
Nowadays, you just have to be interested in real estate enough to visit a few stops on your local Parade of Homes or wander into a model home here and there.
New construction is increasingly including solar photovoltaic panels and nearly all new homes are built to be energy efficient these days.
Tom Werner, CEO of California-based solar panel manufacturer SunPower, told Bloomberg News in May that he fully expects solar panels will be standard on all new home construction before the end of the decade. SunPower has already provided solar panels for more than 10,000 new homes.
Certain home manufacturers, such as KB Homes, have declared that they will include solar on all new construction in certain areas.
With dramatic increases in solar installations, panels are becoming common enough that they’re not making headlines anymore when they’re featured on Parade or model homes.
Local homebuilder associations often host a Parade of Homes, usually during the last two weeks of August, to showcase area homebuilders and their work. The parade gives people a chance to see what new construction looks like today, talk with builders, designers, landscapers and architects about future plans and remodeling ideas.
Increasingly, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal installers are sending representatives to the houses they worked on to talk with potential customers.
In California, the New Solar Homes Partnership provides incentives to builders who include rooftop solar on their new homes. And some cities, like Sebastopol and Lancaster, have passed legislation requiring that solar be installed on all new construction.
That makes solar a given in a lot of new California neighborhoods. But solar is shining in Parades all over the country. Syracuse, New York featured a solar home on its parade this year, as did Austin, Denver, Colorado Springs, Milwaukee, Salt Lake and countless others.
Solar has increasingly appeared on Parade Home since they first made a big splash in 2009. The surprising thing about solar on new construction is that it doesn’t just come on the highest-end homes.
Salt Lake City’s 2009 parade featured several homes valued under $220,000 outfitted with solar, according to a Utah Real Estate News article that year.
Green building has gained momentum and has become something buyers look for and builders increasingly deliver.