On the campus of the University of California there is a showcase home which might just be the world’s most high tech house. Possibly. It’s built by Honda as a demonstration of its latest technologies. It produces enough electricity to run both the house and an electric car, with a surplus to feed back into the grid – a zero carbon, energy positive building.
The Honda Smart Home uses LED lights throughout, geothermal heating beneath the building, and a ‘rain garden’ that holds storm water and drains it away slowly to help reduce flooding. Passive design techniques have been used, orienting the building in its environment to maximise natural light and ventilation, capturing solar heat in winter and shading the house in summer. The house is insulated and air tight, and uses a new pressurised aerosol sealant to make the whole building airtight.
Electricity is generated through rooftop solar panels, and optimised through a home energy management system. That includes a battery in the garage that stores power for use at night, and allows the house to run as a micro-grid, charging the electric car or selling power into the grid when demand is low. The electric car, as you might expect from Honda, is an integral part of the system.
Some of the technologies are less familiar and more experimental, and why not in a show home that nobody actually lives in? That includes ‘adaptive circadian lighting’ that reflects the different colour tones of the natural day – more amber colours at dawn and evening, and bluer, brighter light in the middle of the day.
Sustainable building doesn’t have to be high tech, but what I like about the Honda Smart Home is that it combines highly advanced technologies with simple, age-old ideas like orienting your building towards the sun.