The vision of solar + storage, home automation and home building is coming to life in a small fishing community called Cortez, Fla., near the retirement and vacation communities of Sarasota and Bradenton. In Cortez, LEED residential developer Pearl Homes and Sonnen, a market leader in smart residential energy storage, are teaming on a net-zero-plus and climate-positive community called Pearl Home.
The aim, according to Pearl Homes president Marshall Gobuty, is nothing short of making green living affordable to a wider market than has enjoyed it up to this point.
Pearl Home will feature 148 homes pursuing LEED Platinum certification. Each will feature rooftop solar panels, a new and affordable Sonnen energy storage system, smart thermostat and electric vehicle charger. All these disparate elements will be controlled through Sonnen’s energy automation and AI software platform.
This is the first instance of an energy storage system working in concert with Google Home in a master-planned community , capable of intelligently maximizing each home’s renewable energy. Those homes that have been built to this point are generating approximately 96 % of their own clean power. Being fully net zero is the goal.
In addition, Pearl Home will decongest the wires of the local utility grid, provide smart configurable backup for peace of mind in event of hurricanes and other disasters and deliver load-shaping through each day to support intelligent demand management.
The homes will be strategically designed to take fullest advantage of natural breezes for ventilation and cooling, further reducing need for fans and air conditioning.
“Pearl Home is the first community of its kind that combines LEED Platinum design with sonnen intelligent energy storage and Google Home smart home automation to create a new standard of net-zero energy plus homes,” said Blake Richetta, senior vice president and head of sonnen USA. “Beyond creating a new standard for homes that are capable of generating and deploying their own power, the Pearl Homes development also provides the first sonnen community in Florida that contributes to the decarbonization of the local grid through better energy management across the entire hive of homes. We are seeing the beginning of a transformation in home design and home building that will solidify as consumer demand for smarter homes with greater energy efficiency and a dramatically smaller carbon footprint increases.
“Pearl Homes is a true innovator in green home building and sonnen is proud to partner with them on creating clean energy communities in Florida.”
As for Pearl Homes, its vision and quest for sustainability came about organically, remembered Gobuty. “We traditionally focused on stick-and block-built homes in Florida,” he said.
“After we built two model homes for Mirabella’s 160-home community, we decided to push the envelope and not be like everyone else, but rather focus on what we consider home building of the future. One of the largest homebuilders in the country emphatically said, ‘Don’t do LEED!’ So we of course decided that building the largest LEED platinum community in the U.S. was our next objective.”
Bridging the Gap
Pearl Homes soon identified sustainability at an affordable price as a key differentiator, as many consumers have associated renewable energy features with high costs.
“We built Mirabella homes to serve as a standard, incorporating LEED capabilities, low- VOC paints, solar and other features,” Gobuty said. “In addition to sustainability, the future of homebuilding is ‘less is more,’ so we partnered with sonnen to bridge the gap between homebuilders and buyers who think about ‘going green’ but don’t go all the way in terms of making a home truly sustainable. This development proves it is indeed possible to deliver a great home where you feel the pride of self-generation for power, an inspiring quality we’re learning [has generated] significant market appetite.”