While luxury homes are often criticized for being excessive and wasteful, the last few years have seen high-end construction make a concerted turn toward improved sustainability and efficiency. In 2015, more than ever, smart home technology is being applied to the problem of energy consumption and environmental impact, resulting in luxury homes that are simultaneously high-end and eco-friendly.
Jennifer Egbert, a REALTOR based in Boulder, Colorado who specializes in luxury homes, has noticed a steady uptick in the combination of smart home technology and eco-friendly design practices in new luxury home constructions. “Smart home design is evolving quickly to meet the demands of current homeowners and future buyers,” Egbert wrote in a recent online article for At Home Colorado. “Especially here in Boulder, high-tech and energy efficient houses continue to rise in popularity.”
According to Egbert, an ILHM-certified real estate professional, four of today’s most popular luxury home design features focus on solar power, water conservation, efficient energy storage, and smart home technology.
Passive Solar Homes
In addition to harnessing the sun’s power with high-efficiency solar panels, today’s most ecologically oriented luxury residences are built using passive solar home design. With careful window positioning and insulation, passive solar homes are heated and cooled naturally by the environment, reducing reliance on A/C and furnace units that are famously inefficient—particularly in spacious, open-plan homes like those on the luxury market. Egbert is currently featuring a Boulder-area high-tech passive house on her website, and she sees the passive house trend as both unique and important. “It’s paving the way for a new type of lifestyle—one that emphasizes an appreciation for nature while providing high-end building components.”
Newer eco-friendly luxury homes are doing away with expansive green lawns and non-native plants that require mind-boggling volumes of water. “Homeowners are becoming increasingly concerned with conserving water,” noted Egbert, “which is why many residences are employing water-saving landscaping design techniques like hardscaping or xeriscaping.” In addition, wealthy eco-minded homeowners are installing simple design features to reduce water consumption, such as high-efficiency toilets, showerheads, and faucets, as well as water capture systems that harvest rainwater for in-home use.
Tesla Home Energy Battery
One of the most groundbreaking recent innovations in eco-technology is the Tesla home energy battery, which is out of stock until 2016—proof of its popularity. The Tesla Powerwalllinks with a home’s solar panels, stores energy for later consumption, and provides energy to run a residence regardless of weather conditions. If the residence is connected to the grid, the Powerwall further helps to cut utility bills by charging during times of day when energy costs are at their lowest. “Energy efficiency is on most people’s minds these days,” said Egbert, “so some homeowners are going to great lengths to cut down on their utility bills.”
Smart Home Technology
Along with incorporating eco-friendly design features into their residences, luxury homeowners are implementing cutting-edge “smart home” technology, which integrates seamlessly with mobile devices and offers easy manipulation of home functions like temperature, humidity, lighting, irrigation, and entertainment. Ambient intelligent systems (AmI) go one step further by predicting and responding to residents’ needs. A network of sensors tracks movements and behavioral patterns and, as a result, the system can turn up the lights as you enter a dark hallway or adjust the heating when you’re expected to get home late from work. Remarking on the growing popularity of high-tech luxury homes, Egbert said, “To many homeowners, the phrase ‘smart home’ still conjures up images of futuristic gadgets, but that technology is definitely available and many builders and home owners are choosing to implement it.”
— Luxury Insights 07 December 2015 —
This economic snapshot published by the Dallas Morning News on 7 June 2015 gives great insight into the current new home market. For the original infographic, click HERE.
Three Large Master-Planned Developments Underway
Canals at Grand Park – Frisco
Developers in Frisco have begun construction of an urban-style mixed-use village that will have almost 2,000 homes. The $500 million Canals at Grand Park development on Legacy Drive will have a variety of apartments, houses, townhomes and senior townhouses built around landscaped parks and waterways. Dallas-based Charter Holdings and Arcadia Realty Corp. are the developers of the land, which is west of Dallas North Tollway and near Frisco’s Main Street. Work has begun on the 152-acre project at Legacy and Cotton Gin Road. The first homes should be ready next year. “We wanted this community to be developed with new urbanism, so it doesn’t look like a traditional suburban subdivision,” said Charter Holdings CEO Ray Washburne said Monday. “Since it is all coming up at once, it will be incredible.” “Our whole project will be in three phases,” said StreetLights CEO Doug Chesnut. “We will have the first phase finished late next year. “The units in the buildings will have walk-up front doors and front porches,” he said. “This is an old way of thinking that we forgot.” The single-family home neighborhoods will also be built with houses that front on tree-lined streets and face the almost dozen small parks and greenspaces. Builders including CB Jeni Homes, Darling Homes, Cambridge Homes, Normandy Homes and Drees Homes have bought the home sites, Gietema said. “It will be the late fourth quarter when we deliver the first building lots,” he said.
- Dallas Morning News, May 5, 2014
Inspiration – Adjoins Towns of Wylie and St. Paul
With demand for new homes surging in Collin County, developer Huffines Communities is rushing to start work on a 1,400-home residential community. The almost 600-acre Inspiration development is under construction at the east end of Parker Road. Construction has begun on the shores of Lake Lavon with the first 206 houses. Builders include Highland Homes, K. Hovnanian, Meritage, CastleRock, and Shaddock, and the average price will be $375,000. Inspiration will have a community center with a pool and an outdoor pavilion.
- Dallas Morning News, May 3, 2014
Riverwalk – Flower Mound
Crews in Flower Mound are well on their way to create a massive $16 million development anchored by a body of water that doesn’t exist yet. They are currently working to divert water from three surrounding ponds to form the modest river. The goal is to create a “river walk.” “It’s very difficult. It takes some trenching, some building of some wells, in order to infiltrate restoring and retaining the water in that particular location,” explained Alvin Jackson with Centurion American, the lead developer on the project. Flower Mound voters approved the multi-million dollar project through the creation of a Public Improvement District back in November. The creation of a PID allows the developer to levy assessments on the river walk property, and revenue generated would go to future economic development. The hope is that a water feature will attract business. The mixed-use development will include restaurants, shops and housing along the waterway. It’s a massive, ambitious project happening all at once. Jackson predicts the water feature will be complete by October. They plan to release a list of stores and restaurants by mid-summer.
- WFAA, April 10, 2014
Last year housing permits hit their highest level since 2008, according to the Census Bureau, and new-home sales grew 20% from the prior year.
An untouched abode offers advantages, of course, such as a sleek modern layout and few repairs. Buying an existing home, however, may allow you to seal the deal faster and can offer better short-term price appreciation.
Head-to-head comparisons can help you decide which choice better fits your priorities. To see the full article and compare which is better for you, click here.