The B&D Interview: Joel Abney, Vice President of Operations for Woodside Homes

Woodside Homes continues its growth by using energy-efficient building methods and smart technology to improve homebuyers’ wellbeing

Builder and Developer: Can you tell me more about Woodside Homes’ history, and how the company got to where it is today?

Joel Abney: Woodside Homes has been in business since 1977. Throughout our 42-year history, Woodside has always focused on quality, integrity, and the goal of providing our customers with the ability to live their ideal life.

In 2017, Woodside became part of Sekisui House, one of the largest homebuilding companies in the world. Throughout the more than 50 years in business, Sekisui House has built over 2.3 million homes.

B&D: What new approaches is Woodside Homes taking in developing their homes? How are they making them more efficient?

JA: Woodside Homes has had a commitment to energy efficiency for many years. From the early 2000s, our California operations were early adopters of renewable energy sources, primarily solar power. About a year and a half ago, Woodside began testing new technology with the goal of allowing us to offer energy-efficient homes to all of our customers, from entry- level to semi-luxury. We like to think of it as “democratizing net-zero.” We have built two net-zero test homes in different climate zones. These test homes are designed to evaluate the capabilities of the trade base in the markets, the true upfront costs involved, and the ultimate value for the consumer. Additionally, we are gathering data on these homes over the next 12 months to prove out the modeled energy usage with real-life data.

Some of the technical items we are testing are:

  • High-performance walls, including different insulation systems to improve the R-value and air exchanges within the home
  • High-performance attics
  • Water-conserving plumbing systems, including faucets, water heaters, and recirculation systems • High-efficiency HVAC systems
  • High-efficiency water heating

B&D: How has Woodside Homes begun to – or how do they plan to – incorporate smart home technology into their new homes?

JA: We view smart home technology as a critical aspect of the future of housing. To be clear, in our view, the smart home must move beyond simply being a connected home. In other words, the true uses of smart home technology should move beyond convenience to areas such as health (ex. IAQ, comfort, and mental wellness) and energy efficiency by utilizing AI to make the home a place that improves our overall well being.

BD: Tell me more about Woodside Homes’ partnership with Sekisui House, and what your hopes are for this partnership moving forward?

JA: Sekisui House has been an amazing company to be part of. The corporate philosophy of Sekisui House Group is a love of humanity. The company truly believes that society can be improved through housing. Very few companies live out their beliefs through their business practices to the level of Sekisui House.

One of the reasons that Sekisui House and Woodside Homes make such a winning match is that our company values are well aligned. We are encouraged by the prospects of extending the ESR leadership of Sekisui House into the U.S. home market.

B&D: Can you comment on the current homebuilding market trends and how Woodside Homes is either keeping up or keeping ahead of them?

JA: The focus on the consumer and their expectations of buying a home are what is driving the market today. The issues of affordability, energy efficiency, technology, and quality can all be tied back to what the consumer is seeking out in their homebuying and homeownership experience.

New home purchases only make up about 20 percent of the homebuying transactions in the U.S. Homebuilders must create a compelling reason to purchase a new home. Woodside Homes is doing this by focusing on the customer and their needs and desires. With our relationship with Sekisui House, Woodside Homes can bring technologies and knowledge to the market to improve our buyers’ lives and allow each of them to live their ideal life.

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