Homebuilders looking to distinguish themselves as forward-thinking leaders are finding new friends in high-tech home systems.

When Tucson-Ariz.-based homebuilder Pepper Viner Homes wanted a way to distinguish itself beyond the green and sustainable features it touts, it looked to smart home automation systems, and will offer the systems as standard in its Stonebridge in the Foothills subdivision and likely others.

“We wanted to find the next thing, and felt we were already the leader in green building in Tucson,” says Pepper Viner Chief Operating Officer Chad Williams.

Pepper Viner isn’t the only homebuilder looking to offer technologies such as solar, home automation and ultra-high-speed Internet connectivity as standard. In the past couple of years there has been a bevy of homebuilders jumping on the bandwagon to high-tech standardization.

Quick Hit: Green Home Builder Offers Home Automation as Standard

The Solar Also Rises

Homebuilding giant D.R. Horton is offering 1.5kw solar arrays as standard in its 80-home Orchid development in Milpitas, Calif. Regional Bay Area builder DeNova Homes is doing the same for 92 lots at Edgewater at River Islands in Lathrop, Calif., with upgrade options to 3kw or 6kw systems.

City Ventures offers solar as standard on their homes.At the mid-century modern Murano community in Palm Springs, Calif., Far West Industries is offering 42 homes, each with 4kw solar systems, for an estimated annual energy savings of about $1,980 a year.

These builders and others are joining the ranks of KB Home, SummerHill Homes, California Home Builders, City Ventures and more in offering solar as standard. KB offers solar as standard in 30 of its communities.

California Home Builders offers solar as standard through leasing options. When a customer purchases a home, they also purchase the lease at a monthly rate that saves them on utility bills.

Yes, the great majority of standard solar offerings are in California, where energy efficiency incentives and mandates inspire it, but the movement is likely to extend more to other states that offer good incentives as well.

The Smart Home Standard

Sure, Toll Brothers is offering Control4 home control systems in its higher-end homes, and reported to TecHome Builder’s earlier this year a 34 percent sell-through of Control4 systems in Amalfi Hills development in Yorba Linda. Calif., where we’re talking about home prices in the $1 million-plus territory.

Some savvy regional luxury builders are going all in. Frankel Building Group in Houston and Copperleaf Homes in Colorado Springs offer up basic, high-end Crestron home control systems that operate several lights and thermostats in the house, giving homebuyers the option to add multiroom music, home theater control and integrate other systems like security into a home automation package.

Home control isn’t just for the higher end of luxury homes. Lennar Homes’ Landmark development in South Florida will feature boomerang baby suites and Savant Systems’ Smart Series smart home systems that cater to younger generations’ interests in technology. Meritage Homes has added basic home control with Nexia Home Intelligence as standard in its high-amenity communities. Green-thinking KB Home offers a standard package of Schneider Electric’s Wiser Home Management System. The Wiser Power Monitor and Internet Gateway are now installed as standard in all KB homes so homeowners can view their overall electricity consumption via a web portal. Even modular builderIrontown Homes plans to offer Control4 home control in standard packages.

Copperleaf's Aerium family unit.

And it isn’t just for young people. Canada-based Landmark Group’s first U.S. development, the multifamily Aerium and Aerium Encore MDUs, will feature a total of 51 luxury multi-family residences that cater to urban-centric, downsizing empty-nesters hungry for green, gourmet and healthy living, and will come equipped with smart home automation systems from Clare Controls, with four upgrade packages.

At Pepper Viner’s 10-home Stonebridge in the Foothills subdivision, which will open the second week in October, up to 4,000-square-foot homes from $519,900 to $659,900 will come with Clare Control’s home automation system, which Williams found at the inaugural TecHome Builder Summit in March.

The smart home systems will operate two zones of stereo speakers for multiroom audio, two lighting dimmers and thermostats and connect to door contacts on exterior doors. It will also come with an iPad mini and dock to control the system, with optional upgrade packages for lighting, entertainment and security. A Wi-Fi router is included.