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 —