House Tour: Boulder's SmartHome

Posted by Caryn Colgan | Oct 22, 2009
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SmartHome: A Green Extended Care Facility

This accessible ranch-style SmartHome is designed to be as energy-efficient as it is functional. With almost 5,700 square feet of space, Bob and Judy Charles worked with engineers and architects to create an extended care facility that looks like a home. It features eight bedrooms, three bathrooms, a back porch, a physical therapy space, large living space, parlor, foyer, solar room, laundry room, dining room, large accessible kitchen, and plenty of storage.

The SmartHome's Photovoltaic Panels

The south-facing and west-facing roofs support two arrays of photovoltaic panels. The 6.75 KW system provides energy for the home's Energy Star appliances and hot water. Some of the panels are mounted at angles to maximize harvesting electrical energy from sunlight. A custom designed computer program monitors the system's efficiency.

The SmartHome's Badge Panel Resident Location Monitor

All residents and workers wear badges to monitor location. These cutting-edge technology badges are even read by appliances. If a person who is not able to properly use an appliance, the induction stove for example, the appliance will not turn on. These smart appliances are design to prevent injuries or fires.

Architectural Details of the SmartHome

Bob and Judy Charles insisted that the support beams be exposed and incorporated into the home's design. By adding architectural details throughout the building, they steer the home's feel away from institutional and toward a comfortable home feeling. Skylights allow natural light to brighten the hallway during the day.

The SmartHome's Gabled Ceiling Details

Creating different living and work spaces with ceiling details is another feature of this building. Low profile, energy-efficient lights keep the space bright and energy usage low.

Linseed Flooring and Low-VOC Paint Inside the SmartHome

Bright wall colors provide a cheerful environment while warm brown furniture invites residents and visitors to relax. The entire building was painted using low VOC paint. Linseed-based sheet flooring was used for its lack of allergens and easy-to-clean surface.

The SmartHome's Passive Solar Room

By adding a passive solar, or all-season, room to the south part of the building, the home is heated by the sun. The overhang was engineered to add shade during the hot summer months and allow the sun's rays to enter the space in the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky.

Natural Slate Floor in the SmartHome's Passive Solar Room

The natural slate floor absorbs the sun's rays in winter to keep the room warm in the winter. In the summer, sunlight can't reach the floor, enabling the tiles to keep the all season room cool in the summer. Skylights allow filtered sunlight into the room. Rooms like this one are also exceptional places to place plants during the winter months.

Fiber Cement Siding and Utility Boxes

Fiber-cement siding, also known as cementitious siding, and exterior trim provides the look of wood siding but has some significant advantages over wood. Made of Portland cement, ground same, and wood fibers, the product is then mixed with water to create planks, panels and shingles that will not rot, burn, or attract destructive insects. This wall is home to an extensive collection of panels that keep the home running. While the home is operated primarily on solar and geothermal power, it is connected to local utility services for the days when solar output is insufficient.

The SmartHome's Xeriscape Garden

By planting local, drought-resistant plants, the designers ensure the xeriscaped yard is water efficient, yet beautiful. Rocks, trees, and plants are staged against a natural cedar fence for privacy and to protect residents.

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