Honda Smart Home: Designing a Zero-Carbon Lifestyle

Since its introduction in 2014, Honda Smart Home U.S. has provided a unique opportunity to explore the intersection of housing, transportation, energy and the environment through real-world experiments that help guide Honda’s approach to integrating EVs into a zero-carbon lifestyle. This “living laboratory” is located on the University of California, Davis campus and aims to address the two largest sources of carbon emissions for most individuals: their residence and their vehicle.

While “smart home” often refers to various internet-connected functions that emphasize convenience, Honda Smart Home instead focuses on environmentally sustainable design integrating all aspects of sustainability, including materials, waste, occupant health, water and energy.

With multiple years of data from more than 230 sensors built into the home, along with feedback from four sets of unique occupants, Honda has learned a lot about how the home’s construction and systems perform in real-world situations.

Here are some key design considerations that have proven effective:

  • Building materials are important. Choose locally-sourced, certified sustainable materials with a low carbon footprint. For example, polished concrete floors are both beautiful and don’t require additional flooring material like carpet.
  • Minimize waste during construction. An average U.S. home generates eight tons of construction waste, but Honda Smart Home was able to recycle 96% of its construction waste.
  • Focus on the occupants first. Make sure all the home control systems like the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) and lighting are easy to use and provide a comfortable living environment.
  • Recycle gray water. Honda Smart Home uses gray water – wastewater from sinks and showers –  to irrigate the yard and has saved over 80,000 gallons of water since it was installed.
  • Energy recovery = free hot water. Conventional houses waste a lot of energy by heating water for showering and then sending that water immediately down the drain. Using a drain-heat-recovery unit, Honda Smart Home is able to produce more than 30% of its hot water for free.
  • Install efficient and circadian-friendly lighting. LED lights can reduce energy use by 50%. The Honda Smart Home’s circadian-friendly lighting respects the body’s natural clock and rhythm to support the health and wellness of occupants.
  • Design for efficiency. Small things like reducing energy loads before you add solar panels and installing double or triple-paned windows can make a big difference.
  • Store solar power for nighttime use. With a 9.54kW solar array, Honda Smart Home creates enough energy to power the home and a Honda Fit EV car. A 10kWh battery stores solar energy generated during the day for use at night, when household demand typically peaks and electric vehicles are usually charged.

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