My Impressions of 'Green Life Smart Life'
12/16/2009 8:02 AM
You might have heard about this strangely named home construction project in Rhode Island called Green Life Smart Life. We’ve run articles about it a bit over the past year, most recently in regards to the challenges of using “green” wiring in a smart home. But last week was the first time I got to see the place in person. Let me tell you, it’s an amazing place.
|The front porch of the home |
It did, afterall, earn an official rating by the US Green Building Council as a GOLD certified LEED for Homes Project. The 4529 sq/ft home scored an impressive 92.5 out of 136 points. The Narragansett, Rhode Island, home is the first LEED-H Gold home in Rhode Island and only the second completed LEED-H project in the entire state.
As a veteran of the CEDIA channel, what hit me first during my visit was that the home of Joe Hageman and Kimberly Lancaster Hageman does not “scream” technology. For two people who have made their living in writing, marketing, and promoting techie stuff for many years, what they’ve accomplished is relatively minimalist in terms of gear. That a compliment, by the way.
I guess that’s the whole point, though, when you build a green home. You can blend green and tech, but tech has to complement green and not dominate anything.
That’s not to say it’s an Amish home, by any means.
|The energy management screen from Control4 |
Yes, they have a couple of big Panasonic TVs (ENERGY STAR), a NuVo Essentia E6G multiroom audio system (also ENERGY STAR), Control4 for overall home control, Lutron lighting control, Paradigm speakers, H-P Products VACUFLO central vac system, Niveus Media’s Pro Series n9 media server, a Kaleidescape server, and a triple rack of gear in the basement, but none of it overwhelms you like many of the home theater-centric homes we’re used to seeing. Thanks to the homeowners themselves and the savvy of Robert Saglio Audio Video Design you really only see a couple of TVs with subtle speakers below them, some Win7 thin clients and Control4 panels, and Lutron dimmer switches, but not much else to detract from the beautiful New England coastal interior design aesthetic.
|See, the technology is pretty subtle |
The bigger story for the LEED-certified home is stuff that might integrate with the AV controllers to make the house more efficient. With a HERS rating of 58, the home has been ENERGY STAR rated as being 42 percent more efficient than a traditional home of its size. Lutron’s lighting control helps contribute to this efficiency, as do LED lights and the ENERGY STAR products I already mentioned. So does the Control4 system, which helps the homeowners monitor and adjust their energy consumption. The LEED certification goes well beyond energy, however, taking into account water consumption, type of paints used, and indoor air quality, and even the type of carpeting, furniture, and construction materials used.
|So that's what a geothermal pump looks like? |
For me the whole project was thoroughly amazing, and like I said, it’s a beautiful home. Maybe most fascinating to me was the use of a five-zone geothermal HVAC system (controlled by Control4). I hadn’t known much about geothermal before and I know a little bit more now. It’s a fascinating concept where the Earth’s consistent temperature (about 50 degrees F) is tapped utilizing a standing-column well systems installed far below the surface of the ground, in a water well that is 1,000 feet deep. Water circulating in the loop carries this heat to the home. A geothermal heat pump system then uses electrically-driven compressors and heat exchangers in a vapor compression cycle to concentrate the Earth’s energy and release it inside the home at a higher temperature. In the summer, the process is reversed to cool the home. See what I mean? Fun stuff.
|Their rack is bigger than mine, but it's still modest enough|
Oh and I loved the low-flow, power-assisted toilets from Kohler, which use only 1.0 gallons per flush. Now every time I flush a toilet at home, I worry about all of the water I’m wasting. I know, way too much information. For more information about the project, visit www.greenlifesmartlife.com
For a video highlights of my visit to the Green Life Smart Life home, click on the screen below: