May 4, 2022
Ford Motor Company has joined the innovation at Babcock Ranch – America’s first solar-powered town – with a new F-150 Lightning truck that offers a Home Integration System to supply back-up power.
A planned community on 18,000 acres along Lake Babcock, the property is less than one hour’s drive from Fort Myers and built in partnership with Florida Power & Light (FPL), the state of Florida, local governments, and real estate developer Kitson & Partners. Homes are built to Florida Green Building requirements, with community-wide standards for energy-efficiency, conservation, and low-impact landscaping.
Central to its success is FPL’s Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, which opened in 2018 — the same year the first homeowners moved in. The FPL Babcock Preserve Solar Energy Center opened in 2020. Occupying 870 acres, each facility is capable of generating 75 megawatts of clean energy, for a combined total of 150-megawatt capacity using 650,000 solar panels. The role of the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center is to ensure that the net production of clean, renewable energy at Babcock Ranch exceeds the total amount the town consumes.
Babcock Ranch houses the largest solar-plus-storage system operating in the country. Created by FPL, the 10 large gray steel battery storage units can store 1 megawatt of power and discharge for 4 hours. The battery storage system ensures a steady supply of power on partly cloudy days and at night.
Babcock Ranch homes includes those built by national builders such as Lennar, Meritage Homes, and Pulte Homes as well as local builders such as CWI, AR Homes, Divco Custom Homes, and Florida Lifestyle Homes.
It is PulteGroup, however, that has recently made news by establishing “a living laboratory” focused on the future. While not yet for sale, two new model homes by Pulte on Babcock Ranch’s Innovation Way are testing the latest – and in some cases, not yet commercially available – advancements in sustainable new home technologies and innovations. Promising More Life Built In®, these special Pulte model homes include integration with the new, all-electric Ford® F-150 Lightning™ vehicle to create backup power and energy management solutions.
“Among our core values is foresight for the future, where we are thinking, planning, and testing for how people will interact and live within their homes,” said Ryan Marshall, President & CEO of PulteGroup. “At Innovation Way, we are making the future right at home with cutting-edge technology and homebuilding strategies that represent a new era of smart, comfortable, healthy and sustainable living. Over time, the performance of these homes will provide valuable insight into how we innovate our homes and delight buyers well into the future.”
Home Powered by a Ford F-150
For its homes on Innovation Way, PulteGroup is collaborating with Ford and Sunrun to test how the Ford Intelligent Backup Power system of the F-150 Lightning can serve homeowners during power outages. Both the Home Integration System and the Charge Station Pro are built into the home. Once plugged in, a fully charged F-150 Lightning can provide the home with power for up to three days during an outage, or as long as 10 days when used in conjunction with rationing or solar power. The truck can also optimize the home’s energy usage when bidirectional power is combined with other lower-carbon energy sources to help manage energy costs and consumption.
“Ford is committed to leading the electric vehicle revolution with new features that can make people’s lives better and more rewarding. We will continue to work with innovative companies like PulteGroup to demonstrate how the future may look…today,” said Matt Stover, Ford Global Director of Charging and Energy Services. “The ability to showcase, test, and learn from the energy storage capabilities of F-150 Lighting in a real-life home setting provides us with valuable knowledge for how electric vehicles can help drive performance, capability, and productivity at home, as well as on the road.”
Responsive Home Innovations
Inside Pulte’s 2,400- and 3,600-sq.-ft., single- and two-story homes are innovative products and technologies designed to make the future healthier, more productive, comfortable, safer, and responsive to the world around us at home. Included in the test model homes are:
- Wifi-enabled lighting, load centers, thermostats, and kitchen appliances that make it easy for homeowners to control their homes from their phone or sound of their voice
- Moen® Flo Smart Water Security System to monitor and prevent leaks with whole home eco-friendly water filtration
- Smart Kitchen faucets and bathroom shower controls that are voice-controlled and hands-free
Broan® Ventilation System providing fresh air circulation that protects against bacteria, mold, and fungi growth with a series of wall plugs and sensors that identify pollutants and automatically engages ventilation
- JennAir® and KitchenAid® smart kitchen appliances that connect to wifi for personalized options and real-time notifications
- Super Energy Efficient Lennox HVAC System with PureAir System for indoor air quality enhancement
- Rinnai® recirculating tankless water heater with Smart-Circ™ that provides faster hot water
Rheia HVAC delivery system to improve overall A/C and eliminate bulk duct systems
- High-Efficiency Low-E impact windows and spray foam ceiling insulation to improve performance and comfort
- Smart Electrical Panel with Remote On/Off Capability that monitors energy usage by circuit
- Foam Block with Six-Inch Poured Solid Concrete Exterior Wall System and R-22 performance
- Back-up battery system provided by Florida Power & Light (FPL) to increase energy resiliency and monitor usage
- Artificial turf in backyards that require little to no maintenance and are environmentally friendly
- Permeable drive and walkway pavers that allow water to percolate back into the ground instead of via storm water system
Over the next two years, FPL will collect, analyze, and compare the homes’ energy consumption data, with the goal of identifying the most relevant and impactful innovations in sustainability for the homebuyers of tomorrow. Through this data collection and analysis, PulteGroup will receive actionable insights into which specific features and combinations are viable on a larger scale.
“Through the design, construction, and unveiling of these trailblazing homes, we have been fortunate to collaborate with partners that share our commitment to innovation and quality,” said Richard McCormick, Florida Area President of PulteGroup. “In addition to Ford, FPL and Babcock Ranch developer Kitson & Partners, we are grateful to our collaborators at Moen, Whirlpool, Lennox, Sonos, Broan, Sunrun, Rheia and all of our many supplier partners for embarking on this exciting journey with us.”
You can watch the video for the new Pulte model smart home here