We see or hear about a lot of green homes that are built to be energy-efficient, but don’t employ home technologies that can help their occupants conserve energy and resources while living there.
Not so with the Vision House in Los Angeles, where technology is a big part of the sustainable and energy-efficient design. A solar photovoltaic (PV) system combines with electronic lighting control, an electric vehicle (EV) charger, universal dimmers, occupancy sensors, an energy monitor, Energy Star-rated appliances, water-saving fixtures and advanced air conditioning, in-floor heating and energy-harvesting ventilation to create a healthy and efficient home
The Vision House Los Angeles, which opened June 10 and will be open to the public for 60 days, is the result of a partnership between Green Builder Media and Structure Home, and features products from Leviton, Schlage, Trane, Elan Home Systems, Gaggenau, Whirlpool and others.
Though the house is billed as a vision of the future, it’s really about the near future, or even the present, as many of the green and energy-efficient products are available today.
According to Vision House L.A. documents:
Integrating components that communicate can help create a more comfortable living environment and empower the homeowner to invest more control and forethought on how they will use the home and the systems that support it.
Topology and orientation to the sun was considered in the design of the house to maximize efficiency. The house meets green home criteria for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver, California Energy Star, California Home Energy Efficiency Rating, California Advanced Home and exceeds California’s Title 24 energy efficiency requirements by 30 percent.
Sustainable and Energy-Efficient Construction
The 4,300-square-foot home was built with engineered products derived from recycled wood, with 24-inch on-center construction, meaning the wall studs are 24 inches apart rather than the typical 16 inches, and filled with closed-cell spray polyurethane foam and Blown-in Spider insulations by Johns Manville to achieve R-values of R-38 in the attic and R-19 in the exterior walls. No-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints were used, and the siding is 100 percent natural cedar.
The 38-panel, 7.2-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) array from Leviton uses 190-watt Suntech solar panels in a parallel array, in this case meaning every two panels acts independently, so if a portion is shaded the entire array isn’t affected. The system’s 19 converters boost the DC voltage to 360 volts, and is then converted to AC power at a Kace inverter. The system is estimated to produce 10,273 kWh of solar energy in its first year, and is designed to provide 93 percent of the home’s electricity needs.
The home uses WaterSense-certified products for water conservation, including Kohler’s 1.75-gallon-per-minute showerheads that save up to 30 percent water consumption vs. conventional showerheads, and lavatory faucets that save 45 percent when compared to traditional fixtures, plus dual-flush toilets. A tankless ecoTough hot water heater by Noritz provides hot water only when occupants need it and is helped by a D’Mand hot water recirculation system that voids pipes of cool water and adds hot water so one doesn’t have to waste water waiting for the hot stuff. Outside, a Hunter smart irrigation controller with LCD screen provides efficient water usage and incorporates weather data to avoid overwatering.
Energy Monitoring and Control
Trane’s ComfortLink II thermostat is part of the Nexia Home Intelligence system that also manages digital locks by Schlage, and Powerhouse Dynamic’s eMonitorenergy monitoring system that can monitor whole-house electricity consumption, individual circuits and a solar system’s energy production. The ComfortLink II’s programmable control provides remote access, live weather and more via its color toucscreen display. Here it’s shown with a Leviton Vizia RF+ lighting control keypad.
Leviton’s Evr-Green 160, Level 2 Car Charger runs on 240 volts to charge an electric vehicle like the Honda Fit EV that is being shown with the home. Leviton says an EV with a 16-kWh battery with a 6.6-kw on board charger can take three hours to charge with a Level 2 (240-volt) charger, as opposed to about 11 hours with a Level 1 (120 volts) charger.
Home Management and Entertainment Plus
An Elan g! home entertainment and management system is being used in the home. The Elan g! system can integrate climate, security, lighting, irrigation and other home automation products., and can be controlled from touchscreens, iPads or a TV screen interface. Also in the home are Leviton’s Connected Home products including QuickPort Cat 5e jacks for the phones and computers, QuickPort F-Connectors for the flat screen TVs, A-BUS volume controls for whole home audio, JBL in-ceiling speakers and outdoor cameras with a video sequencer and camera hub.
Energy-efficient CFL and LED lights are provided by Kichler Lighting and lighting cans by Elite. Some can be dimmed with Leviton’s Universal Dimmer that uses a built-in microprocessor to identify the type of light to be dimmed, while others are controlled by Leviton’s Vizia RF+ system, with four-button scene controllers located throughout the house. Leviton’s IPP15-1LW residential occupancy sensors are being used in the bathrooms and closets to turn lights on and off automatically.
More Than Cool Ventilation
Energy-efficient homes are often built so tight they need ventilation to bring in a constant stream of fresh and healthier air. You can always open a glass wall or turn on a fan, but when you can’t Trane’s FreshEffects ERV (energy recovery ventilator) comes in. It works 24/7 to provide automatic ventilation, while transferring energy from the air being exhausted from inside to the air being drawn in from the outside, saving energy and making the house comfy year-round.
Energy Star appliances
Energy-efficient appliances don’t mean compromise. Gaggenau’s oven stack features a 30-inch Combi-Steam oven, warming drawer, induction cooktop, Teppan Yaki cooktop with precise temperature regulation over its entire surface, a two-burner gas cookstop and an in-counter steamer that boils water or stock in the shortest time possible. Gagganau also shows a wine cooler column, microwave oven and DF 261 dishwasher with Aqua Sensor technology that determines the load and degree of soiling and optimizes water temperature, water quantity, and length of washing cycle accordingly. The laundry features Maytag (Whirlpool) clothes washer and dryer with moisture-control technology to automatically limit energy-intensive drying time.
High-Tech Heating and Cooling
Uponor’s hydronic in-floor radiant heating system is used on the first and second floors to heat efficiently, and are controlled by Aprilaire model 8800 thermostats that report to the Elan g! home control system. Cooling is by Trane’s air conditioning condensers that achieve high-efficiency ratings of SEER 16 (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and EER 13 (Energy Efficiency Ratio). Gas fireplaces are combustion sealed and direct venting.
Central Vacuum System
A built-in central vacuum system by Beam Electrolux is a bagless vacuum system with a self-cleaning HEPA filtration unit to promote a cleaner and healthier living environment by removing dirt and allergens.
Smart Garage Door Opener
LiftMaster’s MyQ accessory features built-in technology that connects to the Internet to monitor and operate the garage door from anywhere in the world by using a smartphone or computer.
Living Roof and Wall System
Bright Green’s Living Roof mitigates urban “heat islands” caused by heat-absorbing roofs and encourages biodiversity such birds and insects likely to stay in an urban area. Every fourth row of pockets is equipped to accommodate a ¼-inch soaker hose line for irrigation.