Honda Builds Smart Home to Study Zero-Carbon Living, Technology

Sunday, Jul 6 2014
Posted by:
Nigel F. Maynard

The American Honda Motor Co. has completed a new sustainable, zero-carbon smart home that will serve as a residence for a University of California, Davis, faculty member but also will be a living laboratory for evaluating new technologies.

In addition to showcasing Honda's vision for sustainable, zero-carbon living and personal mobility, the home will be studied by researchers from UC Davis and Pacific Gas and Electric.

"With the Honda Smart Home, we've developed technologies and design solutions to address two primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions – homes and cars," said Steve Center, VP of the Environmental Business Development Office of American Honda Motor Co. "Ultimately, our goal is to contribute to the public dialogue about addressing CO2 emissions."

The home seeks to address two major sources of U.S. CO2 emissions: cars and homes. It achieves more than 11 tons of CO2 reduction per year compared to a conventional home and vehicle, and features a Honda home energy management system that communicating with the electric utility to improve grid stability.

Other technologies include solar energy for the home and for charging an all-electric vehicle and a high-efficiency HVAC and lighting system designed by UC Davis.

The home is capable of producing more energy on-site from renewable sources than it consumes annually, including enough energy to power an all-electric Honda Fit for daily commuting. A Honda-developed home energy management system and an energy efficient design will allow the home's occupant to use less than half of the energy of a similarly sized new home in the Davis area for heating, cooling and lighting. It also will be three times more water-efficient than a typical U.S. home.

UC Davis's West Village, where the Honda Smart Homes is located, is the largest planned zero net energy housing development in the U.S. Opened in 2011, West Village is home to the university's internationally recognized research centers focused on energy efficiency, sustainability and transportation.

The company said its approach is one of many ways to meet California's goal of requiring all new residential construction to be net-zero energy by 2020.

To see renderings of the home, click here.

Sustainable materials were used throughout the construction process. Rather than cover the concrete foundation with wood, diamond pads were used to create a smooth, polished finish. The home is designed to be extremely energy efficient by taking into account local weather conditions, sun direction and the home's outer shell.


The Honda Smart Home's south-facing windows are optimized for heating and cooling, while the north-facing windows are positioned to maximize natural light and ventilation.


Hundreds of channels of energy data generated by sensors throughout the house will be shared with PG&E and UC Davis researchers.


In homes and cars, heating and air conditioning systems consume significant amounts of energy. In the ground beneath Honda Smart Home's backyard, eight 20-foot deep boreholes allow a geothermal heat pump to harness the ground's relatively stable thermal sink to heat and cool the home's floors and ceiling throughout the year. 


Researchers from UC Davis will evaluate the performance of the system to determine its adaptability to mainstream use.


Honda worked with researchers from the California Lighting Technology Center at UC Davis to explore new circadian color control logic.


Plants that thrive naturally in arid climates were selected, while filtered greywater recycled from the home is the only source of water other than rain.


The Honda Fit included with the home has been modified to accept DC power directly from the home's solar panels or stationary battery, eliminating up to half of the energy that is typically lost to heat during DC-to-AC and AC-to-DC power conversion.


The LED lighting used throughout the home is not only five times more energy-efficient than conventional lighting; it is also designed to support the health and wellness of the home's occupants. 


Honda Smart Home is expected to generate a surplus of 2.6 megawatt-hours of electricity over the course of a year, while a comparable home will consume approximately 13.3 megawatt-hours. 


The home is three times more water-efficient than a typical U.S. household. Dual-flush toilets with WaterSense certification, along with low-flow faucets in the sinks and showers and a high-efficiency washing machine and dishwasher all contribute to water savings. 






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