Smart Home Technology Conserves Resources
Bill Gates spent more than $100 million on a smart house that automatically controls lighting, digital art and security, but even non-celebrity homeowners today are adopting the technology for safety, comfort, and convenience. “Smart homes are the future,” said John Davies, ASID, director of design for Marrokal Design and Remodeling. The firm recently won a National CotY Award from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) for a whole-home remodel it completed in San Diego that included a centralized computer system.
Smart homes rely on networking, programming, and automation to connect all the devices and appliances in your home so they can communicate with each other and with you. With a smart home, you can control just about any element of daily living. Systems can turn on your coffee maker in the morning, adjust the temperature of your heated pool or control the time your landscape lighting goes on at night.
The Marrokal Design & Remodeling project began as a one-story Spanish-style home built in the 1970s. In an effort to take advantage of 180-degree views, the homeowners purchased two smaller adjacent lots to create a small estate-like setting in San Diego’s hilltop Presidio neighborhood. To more easily operate all the electronics in the remodeled 4,500-square-foot residence, the homeowners opted to incorporate a smart home system using components from a variety of home automation companies. Together, the system allows the owners to monitor and control lighting, sound, heating and air conditioning, sunshades and more from remote locations. “The homeowners travel a lot but they can access this system from anywhere in the world,” Davies said. “They can be on a beach in Bora Bora and control their home’s lighting from their PDA.”
Eco-consciousness was an important element the smart home system. For example, the house has a digital weather station that measures humidity, wind direction, temperature and light to help ensure that the irrigation system waters the landscaping with just the right amount of water. “The homeowners are green-crazy and recycle all of their water,” Davies said. “A cistern grabs all the excess water—even that beneath the lawn—and recycles it into the system.”
Many of the home’s windows operate electronically to maximize passive cooling. When the interior reaches a certain temperature the windows open to pick up the breezes and help cool down the home.
The home is set up for entertaining, and electronic controls create “scenes” or “moods” by altering the lighting and music in different rooms. Even the indoor pool area has an electronic air handler that draws out moisture and the chlorine scent so that it doesn’t waft into other areas of the home.
“This project was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Davies said. “The homeowners asked us to use creativity and expertise to come up with a design plan that would fit their needs and their lifestyle.”