Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sustain Lane ~ Smart Homes for the Eco-Minded

Note the comment at the end:

""Our homes need not be 6,000 square foot McMansions, or Mc-Green homes, to serve as quality safe shelter. The massive trophy home is as much a part of the disease of affluence we Americans inflict on the world as the gas gobbling SUV..."

Hybrid Living Homes: Smart Homes for the Eco-Minded

Hybrid Technologies' recently completed 6,000 square foot "smart home" in Calgary, Alberta produces its own energy and incorporates environmentally sustainable and energy efficient technologies. We spoke with Business Development Director Richard Griffiths about the Las Vegas-based company's Hybrid Living Home project and the future of homes.

SustainLane: Can you give a brief overview of the Hybrid Living Home project?

Richard Griffiths: Hybrid Technologies was established roughly in 2000 as a developer of lithium batteries. We were a company that built lithium batteries and vehicles, and we slowly realized that the development of lithium does not only apply to vehicles and portable electronic devices but can actually power a home. And then, instead of just making it a lithium home, we decided to include all of the latest technology to really enhance what we’re doing. That led to the development of a home that was not only powered by lithium and grid-free, but also embodied all of the latest smart home technology. The home takes a holistic approach, providing the people who live in it with an ambiance of tranquility while using the latest energy and environmental technology. The water in the home is coming from rain water; a heat sink is used to heat and cool the home; solar and wind are used for power; and even the paint deletes UV rays. Every element of the home was considered. It’s sort of a showcase of what you can do with technology but also with environmental concerns.

SL: Can the energy technology coexist with more traditional homes in suburban and urban areas?

Absolutely. Everything we put in this home is a functional and applicable technology. Suburban homeowners can go and buy a $5,000 wind turbine that’s going to help support their home energy use; or a solar panel to decrease the cost of heating water; or lithium components and batteries to power a refrigerator, a TV, and all of that. The hybrid living home is sort of the best and most complete use of current technology, but each piece of that technology can be purchased and used independently.

SL: In the hybrid home there’s also a lot of attention paid to the indoor environment. What are some of the biggest factors affecting indoor air quality in a traditionally built home?

RG: If you look at a traditionally built home, there are a lot of allergens. The carpet, for example, is incredibly filthy and creates a lot of problems for people with allergies. Depending on where you live, your doors can also let in a lot of dust. Designers and builders haven’t thought about things like dust and allergens. With the hybrid living home, there was lot of thought about how to improve the air quality within a home. Also, the materials that are used in the hybrid living home--all the shelves, countertops, and wood--are all formaldehyde-free. There are the hardwood surfaces, concrete, or tile over 75 percent of the floor area. We only used natural carpet, and it wasn’t glued. Everything has a healthy element to it.

SL: Are there plans to construct more homes and put them up for sale?

RG: Our company has been successful working with governments and NGOs around the world. We believe that this technology is applicable not only in a $2 million home, but for example in $20,000 homes being built in Central America or in Asia because of the tsunami. We will never be a manufacturer of homes, but we will be the seller of environmental technology to organizations, to NGOs, to government, and to consumers within the U.S. and European markets.

SL: Why aren’t more people building homes like this one?

RG: Just think about how much technology we’ve had in this short period of time. And yet when we look at the way we live, nothing’s changed. That’s the biggest element about all of this. You have to start showing people that it is not conceptual. It is not only attainable by the very few--the obscure people like Bill Gates with his 40,000 square foot super home. You don’t have to be a billionaire to live that way; you don’t have to be a billionaire to drive a lithium vehicle. What we’re trying to do is make it affordable and also palatable. It’s not just about seeing how much technology you can put into a home, it’s about really respecting the fact that this is your environment. We want you to be a healthier person mentally, spiritually, environmentally by living in a home like this and driving a car like this. That’s our foundation.

Related Content
Learn how to increase your home's efficiency.
Find out how to dispose of remodeling waste responsibly from Chris Sparks.
Get the scoop on plug-in hybrid cars.
Find out how churches that go green save money.

Community Comments

"Our homes need not be 6,000 square foot McMansions, or Mc-Green homes, to serve as quality safe shelter. The massive trophy home is as much a part of the disease of affluence we Americans inflict on the world as the gas gobbling SUV. Where do we get off saying huge homes are sustainable when we just 4% of the planet's humans suck up 25% of the resources. Ah, yes that's right -- 'too much is just enough...' Sick."

-- Bion D. Howard, Hilton Head Island, SC

Bion D. Howard, President. PO Box 23858, Hilton Head Island, SC 29925 USA. energybuilder@hotmail.com, www.energybuilder.com


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