WIRED Magazine is building a house that will serve as a showcase of high-tech home systems as well as sustainable design and construction practices. Working with green prefab home manufacturer LivingHomes, founded by tech industry veteran Steve Glenn, WIRED conceived the project as an example of how high technology, luxury, and high design can be integrated and balanced with sustainable living. The home is being built to achieve a USGBC LEED Gold rating.
"A key element of WIRED is that we cover science, technology, business, and culture; but being wired is a lifestyle. It seemed the best way to make that evident was to bring it all together into a home," says Maya Draifin, the magazine's director of special projects. "Steve Glenn seemed like the ideal person to partner with; he has a long technology background and he's kind of the quintessential wired guy."
The 4,057-square-foot, five-bedroom, open-plan home was erected Sept. 5-7, going from concrete pad to about 80 percent completed in the course of three days. (To view the time-lapse video of the houses' modular construction, follow these links: http://livinghomes.gen-host.net/lh/lh/camera1.htm and http://livinghomes.gen-host.net/lh/lh/camera2.htm.
Finish work will continue into October. Located in a posh Los Angeles neighborhood, the site's existing home was deconstructed rather than simply demolished, with 70 percent to 80 percent of its materials being reused or recycled in various ways.
Designed by architect Ray Kappe, the WIRED LivingHome will boast multiple home technologies and electronics. Building a LEED-certified home gave the partners the opportunity to incorporate automation technology to control lighting, climate systems, and lawn irrigation as a means of conserving energy and water. The home's smart lighting turns on when occupants enter rooms and turn off when they leave, for example, and the irrigation system senses the relative moisture of the ground, "remembers" when it last rained, and determines when to water the lawn and plants.
Installing a Control 4 automation system also will allow the entertainment, lighting, temperature control, and security systems to work together and allow occupants to manage them from the home's central server and control room as well as remotely over the Web, according to Draifin. A dashboard will monitor and display the home's energy usage so "you start to understand what energy conservation actually does for you," Draifin says.
The home's sustainable and energy-efficient features will make it 36 percent more efficient than a comparable conventionally built residence, according to LivingHomes. A range of high-efficiency products and materials—tankless water heaters, LED lighting, forced-air radiant heating and cooling, and soy-based spray foam insulation—contribute to reduced energy usage and carbon emissions. A 4-kilowatt solar power system by SunPower will generate at least 50 percent of the home's electricity.
Once complete, the WIRED LivingHome will be open to the public for several weeks in October for tours, sustainable programming, and charity events. After the home closes, it will be put up for sale with an expected listing price of $4 million. Cost per square foot is $300, excluding the concrete pad.