Structurally, there are endless ways to beef up a home’s energy efficiency: install highly insulated doors and windows, outfit with Energy Star appliances, and ensure a tightly constructed shell. Florida builder Josh Wynne of Josh Wynne Construction, Sarasota, Fla., has made a name for himself as a premier provider of award-winning LEED homes with a unique formula that combines environmentally kind materials and a modern, energy-conscious design with sophisticated technologies such as home control systems. “Energy efficiency is always the underlying theme of Wynne’s homes, but never at the expense of the home’s design,” says Mark van den Broek of Sarasota-based SmartHouse Integration, a firm that has designed and installed many of the electronic systems used in Wynne’s super-smart, super-efficient homes.
One of van den Broek’s latest partnerships with Wynne, “the Pearl,” achieved LEED platinum certification; remarkably, it bears no resemblance to the stereotypical green house where solar panels and rain cisterns are common elements. The owner wanted to feel comfortable in her home and to “enjoy the finer things in life,” van den Broek explains, so rather than incorporate amenities that could possibly interfere with her quest for comfort and convenience, Wynne enlisted van den Broek to install an Elan g! home control system. It goes a long way toward providing the lifestyle the owner coveted, while covertly curbing wasteful energy use.
Without even realizing it, the homeowner, through her daily interaction with the Elan g! system, effectively minimizes the energy consumption of her home’s lights and heating and cooling equipment, both of which are tied to the Elan g! HC6 processor. For example, an ALL OFF command, which can be engaged via the screen of an Elan g! 10-inch wall-mounted touchpanel (two are installed in the house; one in the kitchen and the other in the master bedroom ) or an iPad or iPhone, sweeps through the 4,096-square-foot home turning off every light, most of which happen to be of the LED type. Thanks to the settings programmed into the Elan g! system by van den Broek, these lights never brighten to full intensity, which is another effective and effortless way to reduce electricity consumption. The 90 percent setting supplies ample illumination for any task, says van den Broek, and the lights can be dimmed even more via up/down arrows on touchpanels, iPads or from any of several wall-mounted Lutron RadioRA dimmer switches installed throughout the house.
The HVAC page that’s also found on the screen of the owner’s iPad and the touchpanel screens, meanwhile, displays the current temperature and humidity level of the house. From that page, the owner can quickly and easily adjust the thermostat settings if necessary. For the ultimate in convenience and smart energy use, van den Broek programmed the Elan g! system so that the lights and HVAC, as well as the audio and video components, would all respond to an Away command. As the name of the command suggests, it is intended to be launched when the owner leaves the house, and synchronously switches off any light, TV or audio component that might be on. The command also adjusts the temperature to an energy-saving level and also arms the DSC security system.
While she’s away the owner can check up on the status of the various systems via the Elan g! mobile app on her iPhone, and even view real-time scenes from surveillance cameras. Should a car pull into one of three driveways, a sensor trips and signals the Elan g! to activate select indoor and outdoor lights and to send the owner an alert on her phone. When she’s home, the camera images are displayed on the touchpanels.
This well-secured, comfortable and energy-wise environment creates an atmosphere where relaxation comes easy, and again, the Elan g! system precludes any complications or confusion when operating the home’s cutting-edge entertainment systems. The owner can peruse music and movies accessible via a variety of components that are neatly tucked away in an equipment rack, select the room in which she’d like to listen or watch, and adjust the volume all from her iPad.
One of the best places to settle in, says van den Broek is the living room, where a 75-inch Samsung TV with an Artison soundbar deliver the movie magic. The owner can always beef up the audio, whether it’s movie dialog or songs lyrics, by adding the “invisible” Stealth Acoustic speakers to the audio mix. Installed between the rafters in the ceiling and covered with the thin coat of drywall, the visually imperceptible speakers blanket the space with even, well-dispersed sound. “The open design of the room wasn’t able to accommodate a traditional surround-sound system with rear and side speakers, so we overcame that by providing the owner with a system of pure horsepower, where the sound literally rains down on her,” says van den Broek. And like all technologies in this unassuming green house, they fit right in with the stunning, modern architecture.
See more of this home in the slideshow.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.