July 18, 2011
| by Steven Castle
Homebuilder Scott Frankel of Frankel Building Group in Houston understands the value of home automation, of building energy-efficient homes that will last—and how the two work together.
Frankel’s homes in a development called ParkGate Reserve in The Woodlands are built to the high green and energy-efficient standards of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental design) certification program. And Crestron home control systems installed by Premier Technology Group, also of Houston, help homeowners achieve efficiencies in their lighting, heating and cooling systems and more.
The 58 homes in the development will be priced at $800,000 and up. “The key goal is to be sustainable and last a long time,” says Frankel. “Home automation is one real facet [of that sustainability]. Its fun. It’s neat. It’s cool.” In other words, building green isn’t just about being green.
Standard in every home in ParkGate Reserve is a basic Crestron home control system that includes Crestron thermostats, three zones of lighting control and integration with a security system. Crestron’s DIN-AP2 processor, designed for light to medium-sized applications, is used.
An in-wall Crestron iPad dock also comes with every home, allowing homeowners to control their home systems from the sleek and sexy interface. “People love this stuff,” says Frankel. “Everyone wants a cool remote but don’t want to pay a thousand bucks for it. Homeowners are able to tweak their house to their lifestyle without calling us out there. And they can get a system and they can learn to use in a day.”
Homeowners can also set back thermostats and control lights from a smartphone app. “A programmable thermostat works fine, but at same time you can grab your iPhone and control your settings when you’re not home,” says Frankel.
Expansion of the control system is not limited by wires. Crestron Extended Range RF wireless technology affords robust wireless communications over an impressive distance of approximately 100 to 200 feet indoors and up to 1,000 feet outdoors.
Homeowners can opt to upgrade to include audio/video distribution and other features. Electronics installation firm Premier Technology Group wires each home for a minimum of one surround-sound system and eight audio zones, including control wiring to eight audio keypads. Premier uses Crestron’s Prodigy system if a homeowner decides on an A/V upgrade.
Crestron DigitalMedia 8G is prewired to select wall locations to distribute all analog and uncompressed HD digital content should the client want to upgrade. Standard Category 5 high-speed Ethernet wire is also installed to give homeowners another option.
Green features in Frankel’s ParkGate reserve homes include more efficient hybrid tankless water heaters, open-cell polyurethane spray foam insulation, 16-SEER (efficient) Carrier units for air conditioning, dual-flush toilets that use less water to flush liquid waste and efficient plumbing fixtures.
A new model under construction will feature an eMonitor energy monitoring system from Powerhouse Dynamics. “I think once people see it they will want to use it,” says Eric Herleth of Premier Technology Group.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates