For 2022, I want to explore topics close to home: sustainable living, green homes, connected homes, and so much more. So, for this column, let’s talk about connected homes. However, before we dive into this topic in any depth, we need to acknowledge that before we can have a positive impact on the environment, we have to understand our role in its destruction. Research claims homeowners are unaware of the impact that their homes have on the climate. I personally do not agree with that sentiment, which is why I am here today to change all that. The Living Lab is here to help you understand how to be better environmental citizens from the ground up.
So, let’s start at the beginning with some basic terminology. What exactly is a connected home? Once called AHT (automated home technology)—for those who can remember that—now simply called home automation or a connected home by most, today’s smart home typically has a system that monitors and controls aspects of the house. Think lighting control, climate control, entertainment systems, security, and more. Quite simply, a connected home is networked and connected.
To dig in a little bit deeper, let’s define some of the terms surrounding a connected home to make this conversation a bit more transparent for all of us.
Energy control: In a home, energy control—sometimes referred to as home energy management systems—are technology that might include hardware and software to monitor and manage energy consumption. This means lowering energy costs and reducing energy consumption are among the top benefits identified by homeowners who own a smart home device.
Digital control: In a home, digital control—sometimes called home automation—leverages tech, devices, and more to manage and monitor the home.
Solar tracking: A solar tracking systems enables a homeowner to maximize a solar system’s electricity production by moving panels to follow the sun throughout the day.
These technologies are needed now more than ever. Global emissions need to be halved by 2030 and at net zero by 2050. Along with companies, cities and financial institutions, the United Nations suggests more than 130 countries have now set or are considering a target of reducing emissions to net zero by mid-century. While net zero is a critical longer-term goal, steep emissions cuts are imperative in the next 5 to 10 years in order to keep global warming to no more than 1.5 °C and safeguard a livable climate. It’s going to take a lot of work to get there, which is why every homeowner needs to consider playing a part now.
Here in the United States, since the Clean Air Act of the 1970s there has been a dramatic reduction of particulate matter in the atmosphere by as much as 70%, but there is still much work to be done. To help in our effort to educate we have launched From the Ground Up: Project Sustainability Living Lab. This will give consumers, builders, trades, industry, academia, and government an inside look through the entire process of building a sustainable home. Every aspect of the build will be featured from concept to completion, giving homeowners the why and how of every decision throughout the building process.
Stayed tuned. The best is yet to come.
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