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Green 2.0

New Systems and Government Incentives are Making Green Integration a Profitable Proposal

As environmental awareness evolves, so too

does the trend toward greater efficiency in the home. Consumers aren’t just familiar with eco-friendly alternatives like recycled paper towels, they are requesting them, even as the economy continues to contract.

New data from the Consumer Electronics Association supports this theory, showing that 89 percent of American households “want their next TV to be more energy efficient.” In fact, green consumer electronics are a top priority for 33 percent of consumers within the next two years, the CEA study found.

To meet this growing need, an evolving list of AV system manufacturers are devoting more R&D to cleaner tech and incorporating green thinking into their manufacturing processes.

Kimberly Lancaster, co-founder of the Green Life Smart Life project, thinks that now is the right time for residential integrators to capitalize on Green in their business model. Green Life Smart Life is a testament to that; it’s the goal is for it to become the first LEED-H certified house being built in Rhode Island and is a living showcase of sustainable design, smart home technology, and reusable resources. The blog,, tracks the home’s daily progress and serves as a virtual marketplace of green ideas,

Green Life Smart Life is a custom home building project that will demonstrate how homeowners can make eco-friendly decisions that benefit their families and give their homes a technological edge. news, and analysis.

The volatility of the utility market in combination with the raised awareness around home sustainability has created an opportunity for integrators to go back to their existing customer base with new energy-saving solutions through lighting control and home automation,” she explained.

Just ask Gordon van Zuiden, president of cyberManor, one of California’s leading integrators. He said that many of his clients are now asking how much electricity, gas, and water their family is using and how can they best monitor their consumption. “Providing a low-voltage solution to answer these questions can be an extension of the solutions that we now provide our clients,” he stated.

Todd Westra, director of sales and design with the LAVA Corp. in South Heber City, Utah, said that integrating a smarter power solution, such APC’s IP-enabled S20, is a win-win for everyone. “By adding smarter power solutions to the contract, you add revenue and keep your customers happier because they’re seeing your installers on a less frequent basis,” he said. With its modest staff of 13, Hi-Tech Home in Clovis, California, is taking advantage of the economic downturn to launch a new energy management division focused on saving its clients money.

“The division has four core products—solar panels for electricity, solar water heating, HVAC control, and lighting control,” said company president Jay Cobb. “We already provide services for HVAC and lighting control, and we have partnered with a company to provide the installation services for solar.”

Paragon Technology Group, a high-end integrator in Colorado, is also on top of this trend with a suite of services that offer maximum energy efficiency tied into an intuitive control interface. “It’s a new integration offering for Paragon,” founder David Raife said. “We have always saved energy via lighting control like Lutron or HVAC intelligence, but now there is one unified system for minimizing waste. We have instant feedback to save energy in each room.”

Energy management systems help clients monitor usage of water, gas, and electricity. They can also control the temperature in each room as well as the wine cellar, indoor and outdoor spas, and beyond. Paragon’s instant feedback and system management program is accessible via the home’s touchpanels or a pre-programmed Web browser

Control4’s Home Energy Manager enables electric utilities to integrate, aggregate, and control a heterogeneous landscape of devices.for remote assessment.

Google is proof of that. The search engine and interactivity trendsetter has recently joined the smart-grid software business with its PowerMeter iGoogle gadget. Google’s not alone. Dozens of smart-grid trial programs are now available through utilities, including a new collaboration between the Utah manufacturer Control4 and GridPoint.

According to Control4, the strategic relationship will provide integration solutions between smart home devices and smart grids, facilitating energy management for homes while enabling utilities to balance supply and demand.

Control4’s Home Energy Manager (including thermostat and inhome display) will be integrated in the GridPoint Platform, a software infrastructure that enables electric utilities to integrate, aggregate, and control a heterogeneous landscape of devices to deliver energy efficiency, load management, renewable energy management, energy storage management, and electric vehicle management solutions.

Real-time information, intuitive control, and functionality aggregation are the keys to bringing consumers closer into their energy usage. It helps that a growing number of home electronics devices have earned the Energy Star rating and RoHS (European Union Restriction of Hazardous Substances) certification.

Multiroom systems manufacturer, NuVo Technologies, continues its aggressive push toward efficiency, as well, with the addition of three Energy Star tuners in its product portfolio.

Global CE leader, Sharp, is also seeking ways to reduce negative impact on the environment and support the “green collar” economy. The manufacturer recently collaborated with the HOPE Program, a charity that equips its participants with job training and advancement skills, to launch the Green Collar Project, an initiative to prepare students for careers

Integrating a smarter power solution, such APC’s IP-enabled S20, can be an win-win for dealers. in an environmental field that provides family sustaining wages and safe working conditions.

conservation. Its “Go Green” program promotes engaging strategies to conserve energy and reduce waste.

Long-term commitment is also key for D’Addario, the music instrument manufacturer and parent company of Planet Waves, the installer-friendly, high fidelity cable, and connector line. For nearly two decades, D’Addario has led a cleaner packaging initiative for its products and a “green guitar strings” campaign.

While Paragon has its own residential energy management solution in concert with Crestron, numerous companies have developed robust software solutions, as well. Agilewaves has created an intuitive Resource Monitor, while Lucid Design offers a Building Dashboard, supported by Control4 and Crestron.

On top of the control platforms, dealers are finding additional options such as Crestron’s Green Light occupancy sensors with built-in microprocessors and photocells. These sensors integrate with climate and devices control and reduce on time for lights, cutting energy usage.

It’s a challenging time, but one with tremendous potential. Jim Raras, Jr., principal of the Rocky Mountain West’s leading solar design and installation firm, InPower Systems, sees “going green” as a thoughtful evolution. “Green technology and integration is just about doing things in a more intelligent and rational manner,” he stated. “A lot of time people get hung-up on the social connotations based upon their views. It’s all about economics and these new technologies and processes will be part of standard commerce going forward.”

Margot Douaihy is a contributing editor of Residential Systems.