Eco-Friendly Smart Homes Are Good For The Environment

Each single day, individuals from all walks of life begin enjoying the various benefits a wise home provides. Money savings and convenience the list, however, clever house owners may also feel good their house makes Mother Earth grin.

If you have always wondered what makes a wise house"smart" and the way the intelligent house supports an environmentally aware lifestyle you have come to the ideal location.

The Secrets of an Indomitable Soul

2020 has been a grueling year, indeed.  Is it an anomaly or a glimpse into the future, and how can we proficiently navigate the turbulence? 

A global pandemic. Record-breaking wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, and heat waves. Mind-boggling swings in financial markets and unemployment rates.  Communities on edge. Vast populations of people and animals displaced. Are the locusts next?

COGNITION Hot Take: Smart Home Essentials

For better and worse, our lives have moved online during the pandemic. Some of these changes are likely to stay. What will this mean to the built environment?

According to COGNITION Smart Data, Green Builder Media’s suite of market intelligence and data services, the coronavirus has shifted consumer demands with respect to smart home technologies.

Vancouver, B.C., Tries Zero Emissions Space and Water Heating

Vancouver’s city council approved recommended amendments/updates to building bylaws titled “Climate Emergency Requirements for New Housing 3-Storeys and Under.”

The multi-faceted intent of this recent amendment is to:

  • Decrease carbon pollution and increase the energy efficiency requirements for residential buildings 3 storeys and under, including townhomes, to take effect January 1, 2022.
  • Move closer into alignment with the BC Energy Step Code for residential buildings 4-6 storeys, to take effect January 1, 2021.
  • Set a 2-ton carbon pollution cap (down from 3 tons) for new single-family and duplex dwellings sized 325 m2 or more, to take effect January 1, 2021.
  • Close a loophole in the current lighting alterations provisions, which took effect July 1, 2020.

How would they accomplish these requirements?

Building Code Changes Around the Nation

Colorado, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., enact new codes.

Here are some code changes that address energy and water use: 

Summit County, Colo.

The County, as well as the towns of Frisco, Breckenridge, and Dillon adopted the Summit County Sustainable Building Code. This means that all new residential construction must comply with the DoE’s Zero Energy Ready Home program. This program applies to R-2 and R-3 occupancies as well as R- 4 occupancies of 4 stories or less. 

Existing Home Makeover: Energy Loss Through Glass

The second in a series of building science articles on how to improve the performance of the 90 percent of existing buildings built before energy-efficiency strategies took root.

As home builders, we get the opportunity to “build it right” the first time, but many of us own older homes—or have friends and family with older homes. Here are some thoughts on how we can employ cost-effective and impactful enhancements to our current homes to make a difference. 

COGNITION Hot Take: Hot Markets for Millennial Home Buyers

Millennials and older Gen-Zers have become the housing industry’s top influencers.  They’re moving to lower-priced markets where they can get more bang for their buck and room to move.  Where are they buying?

According to COGNITION Smart Data, Green Builder Media’s suite of market intelligence services, Millennials and Gen-Zers have seized the leadership position in the housing sector.  

Easy Steps to Healthy Home

What can homes do for us beyond providing shelter, and how can they help keep us healthy and safe?

Now more than ever, homeowners are searching for successful strategies to improve the health of their homes in an effort to protect their families. 

A Guide to Energy-Efficient Multi-Story Buildings

A lot goes into ensuring that a multi-story residential building is energy efficient, as this case study demonstrates.

When people are dissatisfied with the thermal environment, their productivity, capacity of concentration, well-being, and health can be negatively affected. Thus, ensuring thermal comfort for any new building design project through its HVAC system, as well as positioning of windows, doors, stairs, and other components, is paramount.

The Tie In Between Radiant Floors and Indoor Environmental Quality

Indoor air quality is top of mind for consumers. This webinar details how to provide perfect air, along with comfort and energy efficiency.

On September 22 at 2:00 pm Eastern, join Steve Swanson, the national trainer with Uponor North America, for a webinar that shows how radiant flooring and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) go hand in hand. 

ICC Offers Advice on Remote Virtual Inspections

Remote inspections are necessary as coronavirus stymies physical walkthroughs.

If you are responsible for inspections, get a copy of ICC’s new “Recommended Practices for Remote Virtual Inspections.” This guideline can help you conduct effective and consistent remote virtual inspections.

Ebook: Make Every House a Smart Home

Brilliant’s smart home system is helping builders and developers make high-tech a standard option for all new homes.

Simple wins the day. Brilliant is a touchscreen control panel with built-in Alexa voice control that makes it easy for everyone (family, friends, guests) to control popular smart home products and experiences: lighting, cameras, locks, garages, music, climate, intercom, scenes, and more.

COGNITION Hot Take: Water Crisis Swells

Are we facing a global water crisis? Yes, but we can start solving the problem. These 6 trending innovative technologies point the way to a water-smart future.

Building professionals and manufacturers must develop construction techniques and solutions that solve impending water shortages in the United States and worldwide. According to COGNITION Smart Data, building pros must keep these 6 trending innovative technologies top of mind:

The Forever House: ReVISION House Scottsdale Unveiled

Green Builder Media has partnered with renowned building science expert Steve Easley on a new VISION House project. This house creates a “remodeling for sanctuary” template that can be replicated across the country.

Given that buildings produce approximately 40 percent of global emissions and are responsible for 40 percent of global energy consumption, the path to a sustainable future inevitably involves the retrofitting of our existing built environment.

How to Insulate Your Basement

New products and a better understanding of building science can help you insulate, waterproof, and improve almost any underground space.

A below-grade space can be bright, with good air quality, but you must take special steps to construct it with controlling moisture in mind. This basement was finished with the Owens Corning Basement Finishing System. Source

Increased comfort, high indoor air quality, HVAC savings, and moisture control are attractive benefits to finishing basements. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy reports that homeowners can save up to $390 on electrical costs per year with a finished basement (in homes where electricity is used for heating). And while the return on investment does take time, insulation upgrades actually offer a quicker payback than window replacements.

Kansas Building Code Update: Johnson County

Johnson County, following the lead of surrounding communities, adopted the 2018 suite of I-Codes (with weakening amendments).

As an alternative to the newly adopted building energy code requirements, Johnson County stipulated that a structure achieving an ERI of 80 or less is deemed compliant. That is significantly higher (read: less efficient) than what the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) calls for in any of the climate zones, let alone climate zone 4A, where Johnson County is located.

Net Zero Webinar—Building Science and Consumer Expectations

This webinar covers success strategies for net-zero building, including optimizing high-performance products and systems.

Join Green Builder Media on Thursday, September 3, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern for a riveting building webinar with Steve Easley, building science expert and educator.  

How to Pick the Right Housewrap

Here’s how to select the best high-performance building wrap.

The best housewrap manages water and air infiltration within exterior wall systems. Choose a product that is tear-resistant and designed to withstand heavy winds and jobsite rigors. The building wrap should also offer superior surfactant resistance to minimize water penetration and should incorporate UV inhibitors into its coating and fibers.

Home Energy Efficiency Data Sways Buyers

A new report from the American Council on an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) proves home energy efficiency drives home-buying decisions.

ACEEE’s research shows that including home energy efficiency scores online in real estate listings would lead buyers to choose a more energy-efficient home with lower energy costs. Home builders and sellers who don’t leverage this information could be missing a key opportunity to demonstrate their value proposition.

COGNITION Hot Take: COVID’s Impact on the Labor Force

Here’s what savvy companies are doing to maintain a robust workforce as coronavirus continues to create labor troubles.

Even before coronavirus, the building industry was struggling with a tight labor market. Data generated by COGNITION Smart Data indicated that labor shortages, lack of skilled labor, and unreliable contractors were the top challenges that builders grappled with. Unfortunately, these struggles have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Remodeling Rises as Industry Stalwarts Rally

Interest in remodeling is protecting the shelter industry from COVID-19’s worst outcomes. Meanwhile, a few manufacturers are getting serious about reducing CO2 impacts for future resilience.

If you’re like me, you’ve done a lot of deferred maintenance over the weeks and months of COVID-19 lockdowns—replacing appliances, putting in new ventilation, fixing broken faucets and addressing nagging issues with how space is organized and used.

New Net Zero Alliance Expedites Zero-Impact Future

Aaron Smith, CEO of EEBA, and TEAM ZERO’s communications manager, Mary MacLeod, discuss how their new alliance puts net-zero energy housing on a steep growth trajectory by generating consumer demand and educating home builders.

The news that the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) and TEAM ZERO formed a new alliance to move residential construction toward a zero-impact future is a game-changer for the industry. The deal combines the long-established education and training resources of EEBA with TEAM ZERO's crucial role in generating consumer demand.

COGNITION Hot Take: Urgent Need for Affordable Housing

For many years, builders and developers shifted away from entry level homes because the economics just didn’t pencil out, mainly due to soaring land costs and hefty permit, water, and infrastructure fees. Higher-end homes have been a more profitable, and therefore more feasible, offering. But the need for affordable homes has never been so urgent, particularly as low-income families are getting pummeled by both climate change and the coronavirus.

According to COGNITION Smart Data, Green Builder Media’s suite of market intelligence services, the coronavirus is widening racial and economic disparities with respect to home ownership.

Kamala and Climate

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden added climate clout to his 2020 presidential campaign with the selection of California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. The former attorney general of California has had a long history of fighting for environmental justice.

Kamala Harris has spent decades advocating for climate action and social equity. As District Attorney in San Francisco, she formed an environmental justice unit to tackle environmental crimes impacting low-income residents.  

Utah Pass Two Bills Impacting Energy Efficiency

Among other things, legislation will allow home builders to use energy-efficiency rebates. 

While the pandemic shut down forward momentum elsewhere, Utah has kept its eye on the energy-efficiency prize: It passed HB 235–the “Voluntary Home Energy Information Pilot Program.” 

IAPMO to Develop Manual on Safe Water Shutdown In Emergencies

Uncertain times demand best practices be set up to keep water supplies safe.

IAPMO and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) have entered into a Cooperative Development Agreement to develop a Manual of Recommended Practice to support providing safe and effective water efficiency and water quality provisions for the built environment.

Roads Made with Recycled Plastic Bottles a Game Changer

Adding plastic from 150,000 bottles per lane, per mile, to old pavement, this company claims their repaving lasts 2-3 times longer than standard road improvements.

A new technology from a company called Technisoil Industrial, based in Redding, Calif., is pilot testing pavement made with recycled post-consumer plastic waste. They call the material G5 Binder.

Insulation R-Values Chart and Buyer Guide

Choosing the best insulation isn’t as simple as comparing R-value, however. Spot and seal any leaks for best results.

You’re eager to improve the comfort of your home, and R-value, you’ve been told, is your first stop. Here’s the chart you’re looking for, but before you choose a product strictly on R-value, read on.

Existing Home Makeover: Two-Zoned Attics

The first in a series of building science articles on how to improve the performance of the 90 percent of existing buildings built before energy-efficiency strategies took root. 

As home builders, we get the opportunity to “build it right” the first time, but many of us own older homes—or have friends and family with older homes. Here are some thoughts on how we can employ cost-effective and impactful enhancements to our current homes to make a difference. 


When it comes to attic spaces, a top-chord insulated attic is the best choice in a warm climate because it optimizes energy efficiency compared to conventional vented attic assemblies, preventing excess hot shingle temperature in the summer as well as buoyant heat loss in the winter.

A Mid-Pandemic Reset of How Home Improves Life

A new webinar, Health In the Home, will highlight new ways to consider health in homes.

On August 20 at 2 p.m. Eastern, Gene Myers, CEO of Thrive Home Builders and EPA Indoor airPLUS’s Leader of the Year, will explore how Thrive is taking health in the home to new levels in a webinar.

Five Reasons Radiant Heating Is the Right Choice for Healthy Homes

Providing superior indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is top of mind for consumers, who understand health starts in the home. 

While hydronic radiant heating has been around since the Roman times and has been the main form of heating homes throughout Europe for decades, the United States has lagged behind in adopting this technology. Currently, only about 4% of homes are heated using hydronic radiant systems while the majority use forced-air HVAC.

COGNITION Hot Take: Modular, Prefab, and 3D Printing

Innovations in modular and prefab homes and 3D printing are projected to disrupt the housing market, gaining market adoption due to resource and labor efficiencies. 

According to COGNITION Smart Data, Green Builder Media’s suite of market intelligence services, the modular, prefab, and 3D printing sectors are mushrooming.

Before You Mitigate Radon, Consider Your Spray Foam Insulation Options

Research shows that closed-cell spray foam insulation creates a highly effective barrier against radon gas in both new and remodeled homes.

More than half of the United States has a problem with invisible radon gas in buildings. 

New Guidance for Atmospheric Water Generators

ASSE standard for atmospheric water generators designated an American National Standard.

Atmospheric water generators (AWGs) are devices that pull water out of the air to be used for drinking water, bathing, irrigation, fire sprinkler systems, and other uses. They are particularly useful for off-grid structures that have limited access to a water supply.

COVID-19 Housing Case Study: Less Activity, Higher Conversion

CR Herro, Vice President of Innovation, Meritage Homes, Scottsdale, Ariz., notes that COVID-19 impact on the housing industry won’t be fully understood until the last half of 2020.

GB: Are you changing your offerings/services? 

CR: There’s no doubt that the coronavirus is having a long term impact on the priorities and capabilities of the general public, which creates changes and opportunities for business to respond to these shifts.

Electric Vehicles Save About $14,500 Over 15-Year Fuel Costs

Researchers compared electric charging costs to gasoline costs for EVs and standard vehicles.

Editor’s Note: A study of this type is long overdue. Although we have heard in the press many times that electric vehicles are more efficient and less environmentally damaging than fossil-fuel powered vehicles, too much of that analysis is anecdotal, not data based. 

Real Estate: Topsy Turvy in the Time of COVID-19

Despite the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases, the housing market seems to be the bright spot in the economy—at least for now. Home buying activity is hitting record levels, even in the most unlikely places, turning all the rules of the game upside-down.

Health concerns from the runaway pandemic have created an exodus from cities across the country, upending traditional housing market dynamics in urban and close-in suburban areas.

COGNITION Hot Take: Remote Working Takes Hold

The concept of work is rapidly transforming as people decide that they are ready to abandon the traditional office model in favor of telecommuting.

According to COGNITION Smart Data, Green Builder Media’s suite of market intelligence services, nearly 75% of Americans who have been able to work remotely during COVID-19 say that they don’t want to return to an office full time. Rather, they want to maintain the healthy work-life balance they have created while working from home during the pandemic, spending more time at home and less in the office. 

COVID-19 Housing Case Study: Still Booked Solid

Ted Clifton, Owner/CEO Clifton View Homes and Zero-Energy Plans, Bellingham, Wash., has proof his zero energy home line is what buyers want in uncertain times.

GB: Is the coronavirus changing your business?

TC: We are in Washington, which has shut down all non-government residential and commercial construction, so yes.

Maverick No More

The rise of net zero housing will likely accelerate in wake of the pandemic.

The net zero energy building (NZEB) movement has hit critical mass. After decades of being considered a fringe goal and showcased in the media as maverick, net zero housing has earned its place in the mainstream. It’s slated to become the way all homes will be built in the near future.

How to Use the Performance Path to Meet Energy Codes

This new resource provides an overview of performance path options for meeting IECC requirements.

What is the performance path to energy code compliance? It is a way for building professionals to use cost-effective alternatives to traditional compliance paths to meet energy code requirements. 

New Mexico Considers Revisions to Energy Code

Around the nation, states grapple with energy code adoption. Here’s a report out of New Mexico.

In his July 25 The New Mexican column, Kim Shanahan, a Santa Fe builder and former executive officer of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association, addresses proposed revisions to the New Mexico Efficiency Code. He calls the state’s potential adoption of an amended 2018 model code--which will impact both residential and commercial buildings--a  good compromise.

Saved by (Net) Zero

When people stay at home, energy efficiency is a must. Builder Wayne Turett came to that conclusion several years ago.

You wouldn’t think there would be much of a link between COVID-19 and the way a house is built. But spend a couple of months inside a home with an outdated ventilation system or decaying windows and you might change your mind—both in terms of comfort, as the weather warms, and finances, when you get your power bills.

Sensor Measures CO2 to Adjust HVAC

By applying a human-centric metric, cooling and heating can be optimized for the comfort of occupants.

Purdue University researchers have developed a sensor connected to the internet to help control and cut down on energy consumption through HVAC systems, particularly those used in large office and hospitality industry buildings, but also in smart homes.

North Carolina Studies Repetitive Flooding Risk

The Tar Heel state decides to stop relying on FEMA maps and identify flood zones itself.

Officials in North Carolina are taking proactive measures to ensure homes don’t keep getting destroyed by flooding, let alone repetitive flooding. The need to act is being driven by the fact that over 77% of homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 were not located in federally designated flood zones.

IAPMO’s Water Demand Calculator Available for Download

IAPMO’s Water Demand Calculator version 2.0 offers new and enhanced features.

While the basic template of the Water Demand Calculator remains intact, several new features have been added along the edge. The most significant new feature is the addition of a drop-down menu that offers a selection between a single- and multifamily building.

Extreme Weather Expected This Summer

Half of this season’s Atlantic storms may become hurricanes.

Leading weather experts predict heightened chance for major storms making landfall in North America this hurricane season. Meteorologists from Colorado State University predict 16 tropical storms will form, of which eight will become hurricanes. In an average season, there are 12 tropical storms, six of which are hurricanes.

Smart building in the Age of a Pandemic

Human health has become the world’s No. 1 issue.

First of all, I hope that everyone reading this is healthy and that your family members are healthy, as well. I do know people who are directly affected by health issues currently. I reside in Santa Clara County, Calif., one of the hardest-hit areas in the U.S. and I’ve been sheltering in place since February.

DIY on the Rise

With people spending more time at home during the pandemic, DIY projects have surged by up to 75% in some markets, even with concerns about spending.  Which types of projects are trending?

While a surprisingly high number of consumers are looking to change their living situation by buying new or existing homes, those choosing to remain in place are finding refuge in redesign and remodeling projects.

For obvious reasons, homeowners have been hesitant to bring contractors into their homes, leading to a surge in DIY projects.

The IECC - Onward With Online Voting

Is e-voting helpful or harmful to code development? Eight ICC shareholders offer their views.

In our last article, we detailed the 2021 IECC preliminary voting results. The outcome certainly generated a lot of passionate response. Starting in mid-January, the letters started pouring in to the International Code Council (ICC) from stakeholders such as the Leading Builders of America, AIA, NAHB, NASEO, NEMA and state and local code officials.

VISION House at Mariposa Meadows: Exterior Motives

Don’t be fooled by the tranquil appearance of the VISION House at Mariposa Meadows—this is a powerhouse built to withstand the most extreme weather.

Spring finally comes to the meadow. The U.S. Forest Service truck idles at the gate while a ranger unlocks the metal bars that have blocked traffic from the forest road during the treacherous winter season. It is this way every year. From the first real snowfall in November through the end of May, the road to Mariposa Meadows, deep within the San Juan mountains of Colorado near Telluride, remains closed.

What Is Smart Home Technology?

In the present world, there should be no denying that people will need to be environmentally friendly as a species. Going green and utilizing sustainable things is great for the environment, and it may help ensure the wellbeing of Earth. Many men and women care about the environment and would like to do their job to make matters better.

Smart houses are amazingly the latest frontier for green living. Throughout the past couple of decades, a lot of individuals have equated smart houses with technological elegance and relaxation. This is changing quickly, people begin beating the ways which you may create your smart house more sustainable.

One of the very best ways which you could accomplish so is by considering a number of the distinct smart home products which are available now. Let us take a look at a few of the ways an intelligent house can be ecofriendly.

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