ROCKLIN and VICTORVILLE, Calif. - Two California home builders - The Grupe Co. and Victoria Homes - are building hundreds of new homes that will feature solar power systems and advanced, energy-efficient designs. The new homes will meet about half of their electricity needs using SunTile solar power systems from PowerLight Corp., Berkeley, Calif.

The Grupe Co. is currently building 144 homes near Sacramento, creating the second largest "Zero Energy Home" community in the United States. The Victoria Homes developments in Southern California will be designed and built under ConSol's ComfortWise energy efficiency program, which works with builders to combine energy saving technologies with energy efficient design and testing. The ComfortWise program yields homes that are said to be 30 percent more efficient than the national Model Energy Code standard and 15 percent more efficient than the California Residential Energy Efficiency Standards.

Since all the new homes will combine energy efficiency with solar power, homeowners are expected to achieve annual savings of up to 70 percent on their utility bills.

Publication date: 03/13/2006