More demonstration houses…

Smithsonian mag article on the “Honda Smart House”, net energy producing house in theory on U Cal-Davis campus that will be lived in by faculty as of September, and monitored for four years. That’s cool.
I’m interested in the variable LEDs that mimic circadian rhythms, and the energy management system features, but I’m confused about the geothermal system that boils water and regulates indoor temperatures (What do they have down there?!?!? A pipeline to hell?).
As the article states, the rest of the features of the building are not entirely new, or innovative, or challenging — double stud walls, insulated slab, shading for passive solar. The article turns on the difference being “…the way they’re used together (and the inclusion of car charging capability) that sets the project apart”, but they’re not sure if this combination of technologies will ever reach the consumer: “…for now, it’s too soon to tell when, if ever, any of these features will┬ábe available for home renovation or new construction”.Really? Really? Builders are already selling net zero houses in net zero communities. Just. Like. This. Meritage, boyz, Meritage Homes, the 9th largest home builder in the US has 19 NZE Communities underway in Arizona and Nevada.And good golly, California has already implemented legislation (Title 24) that requires that by 2020, all new homes built in the state will meet Net Zero Energy requirements. So, um, ya, this kind of technology and features had better be available, dontcha think?

Oy vey.

We are so beyond the theoretical concept of energy-producing houses. The first generation of NZE builders are now at the dial-it-in phase. What worked, what didn’t work, how to improve performance…minimal thermal breaks, maximum thermal envelope, simplified and small mechanical systems.

Somehow I expected that an article pitched and purchased by the Smithsonian would have a little more oomph and research to it.