New Home Technology for Conserving Energy and Water
Here in California, commercial and residential buildings account for approximately 25 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through their use of electricity and natural gas. Despite the fact that all new homes that are built in California are required to incorporate solar energy technology, this figure probably doesn’t accurately reflect the true environmental cost of the homes we build and live in.
Finding ways to drastically reduce the energy, resource, and water footprints of our homes is a responsibility we all share. Here at Conrado Home Builders, we know that the beautiful custom homes we build can come with a high environmental price. Throughout the design and building process, we work with our clients and subcontractors to reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact of every home we build.
By continually educating ourselves about the newest home technologies for conserving energy and water, we can come up with innovative strategies to reduce the overall environmental impact of the homes we build. It is essential homeowners become aware of the embodied energy footprint of their home. Our goal is to help them discover how some of the newest home technologies for reducing energy and water usage can contribute to offsetting the embodied energy footprint of the beautiful custom homes we design and build.
A landmark study titled “The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse” that was published in 2012 determined that it takes between 10 and 80 years for an energy-efficient new building to offset the negative climate change impacts that came from the embodied energy of the building process. The embodied energy footprint of a home is measured by the total amount of energy utilized during the:
- Mining and acquisition of natural resources for the home;
- Manufacturing and other industrial processes of transforming raw resources into usable building components;
- Transportation of building materials from their source of origin to your home building site;
- The energy used during the building process itself.
The above-mentioned study determined that a highly energy-efficient, single-family home would take an average of 50 years of energy savings to offset the embodied energy of the home’s construction. Similarly, a recent World Green Building Council report found that 11 percent of global carbon emissions stem from the materials and construction processes that occur during the building’s lifecycle.
So how does all this relate to the operational efficiency of the custom homes we build?
Moving beyond net-zero operational efficiency goals can allow your home to actually become a carbon positive home. Carbon positive homes, which are often referred to as climate positive homes, make additional positive, renewable energy contributions to the grid. Over time, a carbon positive home will produce more clean and renewable energy on site than the home requires, and feed that excess back into the grid.
Incorporating the latest home technologies for energy and water conservation can help to reduce the effects of the embodied energy footprint of your home. By making every possible attempt to improve your home’s energy efficiency and thermal performance, we can help alleviate the initial carbon emissions that came from the construction process itself.
Smart home automation technology offers several exciting opportunities to improve the energy efficiency and reduce the total water usage of the homes we inhabit. There have recently been several new developments in smart home technologies aimed at improving energy and water conservation, including:
- Smart irrigation controllers: When you water an average-sized lawn with a typical sprinkler using a standard 5/8″ garden hose, each hour you will be using around 1,020 gallons of water. If you have a programmed sprinkler system that waters three times per week, you´ll be using 12,240 gallons per month. Smart irrigation controllers can give you a smarter and more efficient way to keep your landscape irrigated. Smart irrigation controllers have the ability to optimize your landscape watering needs through automatically adjusting to real weather conditions, soil moisture levels, and other environmental factors.
- Smart water leak detection systems: In the custom homes that we build, the plumbing systems can be fairly complex. Even a small water leak in the most obscure corner of a home can lead to an enormous water bill, plus potential damage to the home. Studies show that water leaks are five times more likely than theft and six times more likely than fire in a home. Plus, eventually more than 40 percent of homeowners will suffer some sort of water damage. Smart water leak detection systems allow homeowners to take complete control over their home´s entire plumbing system, so you can be alerted the moment a water leak occurs. Besides leak detection and alerts, these smart systems can also monitor your overall water usage, allow you to create and follow customized water budgets, measure your indoor versus outdoor water usage, and even track your water use by fixture and appliance.
- Smart Electricity Usage Monitors: There are also similar electricity usage monitors that accurately measure the electrical panel usage or usage per circuit that install directly into your home’s electrical panel. The first step in reducing your home’s energy usage is discovering what elements and systems of your home are using the most energy and at what time of day. The usage monitors capture the total energy use and solar net metering and can help you discover where your energy “drains” occur. When you sign up for Conrado´s HomeCare maintenance program, we can help you determine the best ways to make your home more efficient.
- Exterior and Interior Motorized Shades: In order to make the most of solar activity, we also install motorized shades that are programmed depending on specific situations. They can be programmed based on the time, or they can be programmed based on the photocell. This minimizes solar heat gain during sunny days, and uses the sun to warm the rooms of your home during the colder winter months. They also offer privacy with the ability to use smart, privacy glass.
Conrado Home Builders Can Help You Find the Best Ways to Conserve Water and Energy
We care about the homes we build as if they were our own, and want to make sure that all your ideas can be incorporated into your home.
At the same time, we also want to help you find ways to reduce the overall environmental impact of your home. We have decades of experience helping homeowners in Silicon Valley and the peninsula create carbon zero and even carbon positive homes. We also seek out ongoing education about the latest technologies on the market.
With Conrado Home Builders, rest assured that we will go through all the smart products and technologies on the market to help you design the most energy efficient home possible. Contact us today to find out how we can help you design and build the best home for you and your family.