HERRIMAN, Utah — The future of the truly integrated home celebrated a ribbon-cutting here recently in this small community located among rolling hills and a mountainous backdrop near Salt Lake City.
Loaded with home automation, wireless security features, a photovoltaic system and high-speed wireless broadband by Vivint, and forward-thinking construction design and materials by local developer Garbett Homes, the three-level model is billed as representing the possibilities of an affordable, sustainable, feature-rich smart home.
In attendance for the media and home-unveiling event held in August were local and state politicians, as well as Sam Rashkin, chief architect of the Building Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Vivint and Garbett Homes have coined the residence the Zero Home for its ability to produce renewable energy equal to the amount it consumes; meaning, all or the majority of the homeowner’s utility costs would be offset each month.
“Once we transform the [housing] market to this level of excellence, we reduce the U.S. homeowners’ utility bill by $250 billion. Second, we create almost [the equivalent of a cumulative] 2.5 million job-years of work,” Rashkin told attendees.
The performance of the Zero Home has been independently certified under the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which establishes minimum design and construction requirements for energy efficiency. The IECC divides the United States into eight climate zones; Utah and numerous other states that experience hot summers and cold winters are classified as Climate Zone 5. The Vivint-Garbett home is the first to be certified as net zero in zone 5.
The home actually earned a negative-one rating on the House Energy Rating System (HERS), which is the DOE’s scoring system for measuring residential energy performance. Standard houses typically have a HERS rating of 100. Rashkin added, as the nation strives for energy independence the savings from sustainable homes would be equivalent to eliminating 80 million barrels of oil imports per year.
“This event is so important to me because this is a message that people don’t understand about zero energy homes,” he said. “This is where we are going to be, for sure, in the future. The rest of the industry will have to figure out how to catch up to where we are heading now.”
Vivint provided solar panels to the project that generate 10 kilowatts of electrical power for the home’s needs, as well as a charging station for an electric vehicle. The company’s latest home automation technology is being beta tested in the five-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom residence (and other sites) prior to being marketed commercially in 2014. It is anchored by a Wi-Fi-enabled control panel outfitted with a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen and real-time energy analytics. Homeowners will be able to track how much energy the house is generating and consuming from the panel and their mobile devices. Among its connected feature sets are automated door locks, a Z-Wave thermostat, Z-Wave modules for small appliance and lighting control, and integrated video surveillance functionality. Also, the included security system provides two-way communication with emergency dispatch personnel.
“A main difference is we have added the Wi-Fi capability so it can get onto your home broadband network. It also runs its own secure network, so the cameras can be very easily and securely attached to the panel directly,” explained Jeremy Warren, Vivint’s vice president of innovation. “If a homeowner changes their router, if they change their router password, there is no disruption.”
While Vivint and Garbett Homes are collaborating to build hundreds more of these sustainable residences in Utah, Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen tells SSI he envisions replicating the Zero Home across the nation and beyond.
“You will never see us do something that is cool for just one neighborhood or one house. We did this on purpose to do it for millions of homes. Period. I’m not going to waste my time,” he said. “I’m not going to do a project that is a one-off. This is intended to be nationwide, North America-wide and eventually a worldwide concept. Period.”
SSI’s November issue, which will be devoted to the residential market, will report on the home of the future and security’s place in it, plus an inside look at Vivint’s innovation center.