Honda's Zero Net Energy Smart Home
Zero Net Energy means that a home creates as much energy as it uses. This essentially takes homes off of the power grid and makes them self-sustaining. Honda is taking this concept to the University of California, Davis after the successful demonstration of a smart home in Japan in 2012. As California has plans in place for all newly constructed homes to be self-sustaining by 2020, Honda may have a solution that will make lawmakers, citizens, and the company’s stockholders very happy.
The Honda Smart Home’s goals are summarized as follows.
1. Sustainability: The main focus of Honda’s Zero Net Energy Smart Home is to reduce the carbon emissions produced from daily maintenance of the home and the production of the materials in order to build the establishment. The home needs to be able to sustain itself without the use of external power supplies and is designed to govern a variety of aspects giving the residents control over power distribution and needs. Could you imagine telling the computer to "transfer all auxiliary power from the lights to the computer systems"? It is so much like something you would hear on Star Trek or other science fiction movies that you'd feel like you should have a bridge and a first officer.
2. Even the Auto: Rolled into this development of the Honda Zero Net Energy Smart Home is the usability of the electricity-powered version of the Honda Fit compact car and a solar means to charge the vehicle. The home would be able to provide power for itself and the vehicle without tapping the grid for power reserves. Essentially, this entire project would produce zero emissions of any kind that would leave any carbon footprint behind.
3. Income Generating: As the home is projected to produce more power than it uses, this could create a situation where power companies pay for the amount of power provided back into the grid. Of course, this is completely determinate of the location a future home is constructed as not all power companies accept paying for additional power from residential or business locations.
4. Built Smart: Standardized heating and air-conditioning units will not be used in the Honda Zero Net Energy Smart Home. Energy efficient units will be installed specially designed to promote top performance for heating and cooling while conserving as much energy as possible. These are to go above and beyond Energy Star compliance, as the devices will have less impact on the power distribution of the home itself. Even the lighting system is specially designed for optimum performance within the environment.
5. Materials: The home is to be built using sustainable materials such as recycled and salvaged materials from other projects such as sheds, remodeling of neighbors’ homes and so on. This will keep the cost of construction quite low compared to larger units that are built en mass by pre-fabrication construction methods.
Although there are many corporations investing time and resources into developing cost effective solutions for Zero Net Energy compliance, the market is still somewhat in its infancy. Those who will be able to develop a solution that is comparable to home manufacturing in its current state may provide the basis for the future of construction methods. It's uncertain times ahead as energy demands are surpassing what we can produce.
Liz Nelson is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston who works for WhiteFence.com. Questions and comments about this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
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