The geothermal system will earn points toward LEED certification, as will building with a variety of sustainable products, from synthetic slate roofing tiles to reclaimed wide-plank hardwood floors to FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)-certified cedar shingles—as well as a rainwater harvesting and irrigation system.
But incorporating green technologies that can drastically reduce the energy usage in the house? That earns just one to two points in LEED. Lancaster and Hageman are actually going to apply for two points, for energy management of HVAC, temperature and zone control and energy monitoring.
The green tech features in this house actually start with the wiring. By using a centrally located utility room for all of the home-run wiring connections, Mitchell estimates he is saving 80 feet for each of the 62 wiring runs. In addition, the Leviton and Coleman Cable wiring bundles have been minimized to fit the exact cable requirements.
A Lutron HomeWorks lighting control system will dim the house’s 70 recessed LEDs to 85 percent, which is hardly noticeable. That will save an estimated 7,730 kilowatt hours of electricity over traditional 65-watt incandescent light bulbs and 791 kWh over 26-watt CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps). The Lutron system will also be programmed to cut power to high-energy appliances. The refrigerator, for example, will shut off from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m.—which won’t spoil the food. The system also features automatic controls from motion, occupancy and vacancy sensors, magnetic door switches, and even a sensor buried below the driveway.
In addition, an Energy Star-rated Essentia whole-house audio system from NuVo Technologies will spread music throughout the house (two Essentia 6-zone systems will be required for the home’s 12 audio zones). The Essentia E6G is Energy Star-rated for using less than 1 watt while in standby, or off, mode.
But the piece de resistance of this high-tech green home is the innovative energy monitoring system from Control4. The system reads the energy data from the home’s meter and relays it via wireless ZigBee protocol to a controller. With appliances such as the refrigerator plugged into sensing modules and other electronics on the network, the controller can see what is turned on and when, read the total power usage of the home and determine which electric loads are causing power drains.
With that information, the system can provide an hour-by-hour breakdown of all the devices on the network, the lighting system, and electricity used to power the geothermal heat pumps—and display that information on the screen of a touchpanel or a connected TV. The Control4 system can then manage those energy loads by having the Lutron system cut power to devices or dim the lights.
Lancaster, Hageman and their children will also use Lutron’s “Green” button, which reduces energy consumption with a single button press by dimming the lights to a preset level—say, less than 85 percent.
“I think technology is going to be a key to living efficiently,” says Lancaster. “Ultimately it’s our communication with the house that will determine how smart and efficient our home can be. And if we can offset the energy we might add because of an entertainment system, that’s helpful.”
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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