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The Living Lab Comes to Life

From the street, the Living Lab will look just like many other homes in the neighborhood, but when you walk inside you will discover it is intentionally designed to be a model for sustainable, resilient, and efficient residential homebuilding practices.

Roughly two years ago I embarked on a journey with my husband David to build a Living Lab with the help of partners to encourage ecofriendly and green living. This individual project incorporates advanced products and systems from leading manufacturers and technology companies to demonstrate and educate both industry and consumers alike about how we can create a sustainable, clean, and green future for all homes and future communities.

The project aims to leverage the best building materials and focus on future generations with innovative solutions and work with the highest quality trades and techniques to create the best approaches to building a home.

Much has been learned along the way. Now I will kick off this blog series with the caveat that the experiences on the project haven’t always been positive. Candidly, I have been disappointed that many vendors haven’t lived up to their promise in the preliminary stages of the build—which is something I have shared along the way.

Additionally, I have found some technologies to be far too expensive for the average consumer, which is a huge hurdle to adoption that must be said. Here on the blog, I have done an in-depth expose on the cost of solar. While solar is a great option to help reduce emission, as homes are expected to become a large consumer of electricity, cost is perhaps one of the single biggest disadvantages. Different types of solar and the region where the solar is used become a consideration. Again, this is simply one example in the home.

And, then, of course, we have also had the delays with work with the Living Lab, as many contractors have not taken the time to show up for work, with some trades ignoring repeated calls and even just quitting projects to take bigger paying jobs, even though they are in the middle of a project. This is the hard reality of building a new home today and something that cannot be overlooked. We are not alone in facing these struggles. I have talked to dozens of smaller builders and GCs who have experienced similar unskilled workers and let’s just call it a lack of professionalism. Okay, as you will recall one trade told me I am just too picky. Well, when it comes to where you live, I guess we should be.

But there are benefits to taking this journey. For one, sustainability and connectivity are worth the effort in some areas of the home. The saved energy consumption in the long run and the benefits to the environment provide immense value to each homeowner and to the community at large. I think it is worth being said the convenience such technologies offer cannot be understated. Now the time has come for me to share these advantages and what we are beginning to see unfold in the Living Lab.

In the coming weeks, I will share my experiences with some of the technologies used on the project. To kick off the series, I will explore the window shades chosen in the home in-depth next week. While we do not have shades in every room of the house, we do have blackout shades and solar in the bedroom and can use either Alexa or an app to open and close them. The project also features just solar shades, which has a number of very unique benefits in the dining room, which we can talk about as well.

Join me week, as I give my candid experience with the technology—and as I share what I like, what works well, and the impact the technology has on everyday life.

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