Martha Stewart Joins the Green Movement


Martha Stewart Omnimedia (MSO) and KB Home (KBH) will launch a line of green homes. The announcement was made in conjunction with Builder magazine. The project is officially known as the "KB Home GreenHouse: An Idea Home Created with Martha Stewart."

The concept was unveiled ahead of the NAHB International Builders' Show. The homes are billed as operating on "net-zero energy." KB Home said, "It is the company's first net-zero energy home, meaning it is intended to produce more energy than it consumes over the span of a year." Stewart added, "We were happy to be a part of this project with KB Home. It allowed us to build on our already successful partnership by creating the ultimate 'green' home that is not only environmentally friendly, but also beautiful, functional and affordable." The residences have been labeled as a "Maximized Energy-Efficient Home" by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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The new houses will use solar panels and rain collection devices to be self-sustaining from an energy use standpoint. Prices for the homes will begin at about $200,000.

Stewart's company needs a lift -- badly. The firm's shares trade at $4.09, near their 52-week low. Martha Stewart Omnimedia recently lost its CFO. The company also lost money in the third quarter due primarily to trouble in its broadcast division. KB Home is not much better off. Its stock traded at nearly $80 five years ago. The housing and real estate slump have taken the price down to about $12. The home builder recently released weak earnings and poor sales.

There may be little demand for the new green homes. That is to a large extent because the housing market is so badly off. It may also be that buyers may be suspicious about whether a green home will really work, and whether the new technology operates as advertised.

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