When one mentions green home, visions of tight construction, eco-friendly building materials and lots of insulation pop in the brain. But a truly green and energy-efficient home that produces all of its own energy requires a host of technology as well.
TecHome Builder recently stepped into the very near future of green home building, in the ABC Green Home (for Affordable, Buildable and Certifiable) at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif.
John Morton, program manager of Residential Incentive and New Construction Programs programs for utility Southern California Edison (SCE), gave us a tour of the solar-powered, 1,695-square-foot home—and of the home automation system that helps save the home energy and money.
The home automation system can lower lights and shades to save energy when the home receives signals from the utility.”
Morton was instrumental in getting this show house built in conjunction with Green Homebuilder magazine. SCE not only uses it to show homebuilders and consumers how green homebuilding techniques and energy-efficiency technologies can help reduce energy usage in homes to net zero—the house is a research project for the utility.
Next year the home will be given to Habitat for Humanity for donation to a disabled veteran, while SCE monitors the energy usage and patterns of someone living in it.
Energy-saving green technologies featured in the home include:
- An AMX home automation system installed by Fuzion3 of Southern California and Nevada, and which can lower lights and shades to save energy when the home receives signals from the utility for a demand response event, in which homeowners voluntarily enroll in to shave energy loads during peak usage times.
- 5.5-kw solar array.
- Energy monitoring of the whole-house and each circuit, visible through the AMX system.
- Philips energy-efficient LED lighting used throughout.
- Lutron lighting control and motorized shades, with dimmer switches and programmed to control any light in the house, so you can turn in for the night and shut off all lights from the bedroom and put the home into “sleep” mode.
- Whirlpool Energy Star-certified appliances.
- Daikin Altherma combination hot water/ heating and AC unit with a three-way switch that senses whether to heat or cool the house.
- A Delta kitchen faucet activated by touching the top.
- Yale electronic and digitally controlled lock that with the help of the home automation system can lock itself when someone leaves, while the security system arms.
- D’mand hot water recirculator. Press a button near the kitchen or bath sink, and cool water in pipes is voided to a tank to supply the toilets with water, while hot water comes to sink, avoiding wasting cold water while waiting for the hot.
- A rainwater cistern that pumps the collected water into an irrigation system and operates on a sensor to see if it rains and how much water is in the tank.
- Rooftop weather station to keep track of the local weather.
A Green Home 2.0 is on the way as well, featuring an electric vehicle (EV) charging station and an appropriately sized solar PV system to help power it.
The ABC Green Home is open for self-guided tours Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 4:40 pm at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. Virtual tours of the house can be taken online at www.ABCgreenhome.com.