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There is great news for those who believe in alternative energy: Shea Homes has become the first builder to roll out a national solar offering and has chosen to work with BP Solar, a global leader in solar energy. The initiative, Victoria Gardens by Shea Homes, was part of the builder's ongoing commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of homes in all of its Shea Homes Active LifestyleTM Communities across four states.

The BP Solar Home Solutions systems are estimated to reduce electric bills by up to 60 percent per home. This is in addition to the approximately 30 percent energy usage reduction Victoria Gardens by Shea Homes residences already achieve with the Shea Green CertifiedTM standards for home building. Each home will be equipped with a three-kilowatt solar power system, which helps provide security against electric rate increases, allowing consumers to hedge their future risks in the volatile energy markets.

"By providing our buyers with free solar energy systems, we're taking efficient energy use a step further by actually creating energy," said Jeff Gersh, Area Vice President of Victoria Gardens, which features Shea Homes residences. "This provides both short-term and long-term benefits for our customers in the form of significant cost savings, and it also makes a positive impact on the environment."

"With the addition of solar in a home, we're no longer just efficient users of electricity, we become producers. Integrating a solar system into a home during construction makes it more accessible and affordable than it's ever been. Victoria Gardens' homes pass the true test of a 'green' home by integrating a mix of energy-saving and energy-generating devices that deliver immediate and long-term benefits for our customer."

Solar systems started free to new homebuyers in Shea Active Lifestyle Communities in Arizona, California, Washington and Florida. After August 31, when the trail period ended, the systems are now being made available as an upgrade option. Homeowners will be able to track how much power their system is producing, along with its environmental benefits, via a Web-based remote monitoring system.

"Creative business partnerships are helping to transform the American residential marketplace with homes that combine energy efficiency with solar power," said DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander A. Karsner. "These homes will help transform the built environment into healthier, more prosperous and sustainable communities that reduce our carbon footprint, enhance our energy security and contribute to the fabric of a cleaner, more efficient America."

To maintain a consistent and visually appealing look for its high-end resort communities, Shea Homes chose BP Solar's Integra systems, which offers a low-profile installation, enhancing the look on asphalt shingle roofs.

"We're proud to be Shea Active Lifestyle Communities' exclusive solar provider as they become the first national residential builder to introduce solar across all of their communities," said Mary Shields, global vice president of marketing for BP Solar. "We are pleased to see that home builders around the country increasingly see the value that solar brings to their homes as well as to their homebuyers."

SunWorks Solar Systems, Inc. is installing The BP Solar Home Solutions systems in the Victoria Gardens homes. SunWorks professionals have years of experience in installing roofing and solar fields and are trained by BP Solar on the proper system design and installation processes.

Shea Green Certified homes are built with a combination of the most important and cost-effective standards for green residential building set by LEED, National Association of Home Builders, and Environments for Living. In addition to solar power systems, standard features in Victoria Gardens green homes include solar attic fans, blown-in insulation from recycled cellulose, wood from sustainable forests, framing techniques that use up to 10 percent less wood and save 5.5 trees per home, leak minimizing construction via sealed ducts and penetrations, satellite/weather-controlled irrigation systems, Energy Star-rated efficient appliances, dual pane low-e windows and motion and occupancy sensor lighting.

Note: Additional details of the Shea Active Lifestyle Communities BP Solar promotion are available at sheasuperiology.com.

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