SMUD's Home of the Future
Returning to 2008
SMUD is proud of its national reputation as a "green" utility. SMUD has been at the forefront of energy efficiency and renewable generation for decades. But with Sacramento expected to continue its rapid growth in coming years, SMUD also must find ways to reduce its need for purchased power during the hottest days of SMUD.
The Home of the Future is an investment in the future for SMUD. If we can work with builders and suppliers to create a market for these super-efficient homes, SMUD ensures a more sustainable environment for our customers.
Imagine owning a beautiful home that uses one-fifth the energy used in neighboring homes — without sacrificing any creature comforts. If that sounds too good to be true, think again.
The future is now with SMUD's Home of the Future.
SMUD is partnering with the nation's premier energy efficiency research organization, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and local builders and numerous providers of building products and services to create homes that serve as the model for an energy-efficient future. In Folsom, a charming community located east of Sacramento, the first Home of the Future provides a fascinating look at what's possible in green home design. The RJ Walter Homes Home of the Future is the first completed project and offers many energy saving ideas.
Key features of the Home of the Future include:
- Cost effective, energy-efficient design—Every Home of the Future integrates the most cost effective, energy-efficient technologies, including advanced framing, super-insulated walls and ceilings, and ENERGY STAR® appliances and lighting.
- On-site renewable energy generation—All models of the Home of the Future have solar water heating and solar electricity. Solar panels convert sunlight to electricity to provide part of the power for the house and solar thermal systems provide hot water and space heating.
- Whole house energy management—Home of the Future energy management systems automatically adjust heating, cooling, lighting, home office, landscape irrigation, and home entertainment systems to maximize energy efficiency and performance.
- Increased comfort—By reducing summer solar gains, drafts, and cold walls and windows, and by using the latest in heating and cooling equipment, the Home of the Future increases comfort, regardless of time of day or season.
SMUD's Home of the Future reduces annual energy use and utility bills by 80 percent — including net zero electric use — and cuts peak demand by four-fifths compared to homes built to California's already stringent Title 24 energy standards. The Home of the Future combines beauty, affordability and comfort while leading the way to an environmentally sustainable future. The goal of the program is to design and build true zero energy homes — homes that produce as much energy as they use.
SMUD, the nation's sixth-largest municipal electric utility, is committed to reducing the effects of climate change and global warming. SMUD's investment in the Home of the Future is the latest example of that promise. Their current site is: www.smud.org
The first Home of the Future was recently completed in the historic community of Folsom and will be the first LEED certified "platinum" home in the Sacramento region.
RJ Walter Homes - Home of the Future
The RJ Walter Homes Home of the Future is located at an in-fill redevelopment site in a historic neighborhood that dates back to the 1850s. The home includes advanced, state-of-the-art, energy efficiency and environmental features and will be the first LEED Platinum Certified home in the Sacramento area. The Home will also be a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) National Green Building Guidelines Certified Gold Home.
The RJ Walter Homes Home of the Future, located at 607 Mormon Street in Folsom, incorporates many energy saving features which are listed below on this page. Because of these building techniques, the utility bills will be much lower than a house built to the California Title-24 energy code. The chart below illustrates this with monthly utility bills that are 80% lower than a standard house. That means a savings of almost $1,400 a year at current energy costs.
The 2008 bar graph that compares the monthly utility bills of a home built to California Title-24 energy code and the RJ Walter Homes Home of the Future. The y-axis is labeled "Average Monthly Utility Cost" and has horizontal grid lines at $0, $50, $100, and $150. There are two bars on the x-axis. The first bar is labeled "House Built to Title-24 Code." This bar has a value of $139.86. The second bar is labeled "RJ Walter Homes Home of the Future." This bar has a value of $23.55.
Building the Home of the Future
Watch as SMUD and its partners design and build the Home of the Future. Learn step-by-step the key features of energy-efficient and sustainable home design, construction, and operation.
The primary opportunity for incorporating energy efficiency and sustainability in new homes is during home design. Advanced framing practices reduce labor cost. High levels of insulation in walls and ceilings dramatically reduce energy use and the size of heating and air conditioning equipment, which decreases construction costs. These benefits are very difficult to achieve unless they are included when the home is designed.
Site and Foundation
Site planning and layout have a large impact on home energy use. When possible, east and west exposures should be minimized and the longer sides of houses should face north and south. Good site planning also preserves the natural environment, minimizes disturbance, and promotes good drainage and water conservation.
Building foundations should be designed and constructed to prevent the entry of moisture and other soil gases. Moisture may cause structural decay and can contribute to health and comfort problems. Radon gas at certain levels is also considered a health hazard.
Framing and Building Envelope
Walls, windows, doors, and roof make up what builders call the building envelope. It is the boundary between the outside climate and the home's internal environment, and it must be designed to control water, moisture, and air leakage, and to assist in maintaining the home's inside climate under different weather and temperature conditions.
Advanced framing techniques and materials used with improved insulation systems eliminate gaps in insulation and reduce internal leakage and drafts. Advanced framing, using optimum spacing of studs, joists, and rafters, combined with in-line framing reduces material usage and waste and increases insulation. Insulating sheathing reduces thermal bridging through the framing. These techniques create a structurally sound home that has lower material and labor costs, generates less waste, and improves energy efficiency.
Windows and doors are prominent features of the building envelope and have substantial impact on a home's energy efficiency. High performance windows control solar heat gain and reduce heat loss, helping to reduce heating and cooling loads of the home. The correct choice for window type depends on the climate in which the home is being built. Home of the Future builders know the climate requirements of the Sacramento region and can make optimum choices for highly efficient windows and doors.
Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing
All ducts are located in conditioned spaces to eliminate the energy wasted when ducts are located in hot, uninsulated attics. Return air ducts, transfer grilles, or jumper ducts help fresh air to circulate more easily and to balance pressure throughout the home. These components work with high efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment that is "right sized" for the home to optimize internal climate comfort, decrease humidity, and reduce energy consumption.
Water heating can account for 14% to 25% of a home's energy consumption. Selecting the right type of water heater and using energy-efficient water heating strategies can help homeowners lessen their energy use, while still enjoying adequate amounts of hot water. Solutions beyond inefficient conventional water heaters include tankless water heaters, condensing water heaters, and solar water heaters.
All appliances in the Home of the Future are ENERGY STAR® and rated as meeting high energy-efficiency standards. These appliances are high quality, perform well, and can substantially reduce energy use, water use, and costs.
On-site Solar and Renewable Energy Generation
Solar energy in a Home of the Future enables the home to provide most of its own energy, reducing the need to pull energy from the SMUD grid. It is a clean, available, and renewable energy source that can be harnessed in two basic ways: passive and active. Passive solar refers to using the sun's warmth and light to help heat and illuminate a home. Passive solar is integrated into a home's design by using windows, walls, and floors to collect, store, and distribute the sun's energy. It can also be used in hot water systems to replace or augment conventional water heating. Active solar systems convert sunlight directly into electricity by using a photovoltaic system, allowing the home to generate some or all of its own electricity on-site.
The finish of the home and especially the interior space are important for the homeowner's enjoyment of a healthy and comfortable environment. The home is finished with high-quality materials made from environmentally friendly and recycled products. Cabinets are made of materials with no urea formaldehyde resins. Paints and sealants are low in volatile organic carbon (VOC) gases. Carpets and floorings meet green standards.
Landscaping is a critical element to the marketability of a house and can also help with energy efficiency and water conservation. Plantings can be used to shade foundations and reduce cooling loads. Proper grading will direct runoff and irrigation water away from the foundation. Drought-tolerant plantings reduce irrigation and decrease the chance for irrigation water to create a moisture problem in the house.
Commissioning and Monitoring
Third-party inspection of the home is one of the best guarantees to the homeowner that all the construction elements are working together for the most efficient system. The commissioning process consists of on-site testing to certify that the home is performing as it should and to verify the energy efficiency measures are in place. Commissioning provides a level of professional approval that adds security to the purchaser of a Home of the Future.
Efficient Home Operation
Each Home of the Future contains a whole house energy management system for most effectively controlling the interior environment, including temperature and moisture. The homeowner will be fully trained on the energy efficiency aspects of the new home and on how best to maintain and operate its features.
Why Buy Green?
If you're like most people, you're concerned about the environment. You want to do the right thing in helping society reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. You care about what sort of world your children will inherit.
The Home of the Future doesn't just reduce energy use and carbon emissions. It provides a broad range of benefits to homeowners, home builders and the Sacramento community:
- Lower utility bills—Energy-efficient features will lower your home's energy use by 80 percent or more over a house built to minimum codes. This means your utility bills will be lower...much lower.
- Greater comfort—An energy-efficient building envelope reduces temperature differences and increases comfort.
- Better air quality—The use of low-volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitting materials and an engineered ventilation system greatly reduces your exposure to indoor contaminants.
- Increased durability—The Home of the Future is built with high-quality, low-maintenance materials and systems.
- Increased jobs—The Home of the Future uses sustainable products that are developed by local companies and provide direct benefits to the local economy.
Why Build a Green Home?
By joining SMUD in building a Home of the Future, a home builder gains:
- A competitive advantage—Be the first to learn new design details and features that reduce construction costs and increase performance.
- Knowledge about more efficient use of materials—New materials and construction techniques reduce waste and labor costs, helping to increase profits.
- Greater reputation and credibility—Produce quality homes that improve the value delivered to the homeowner and reduce environmental impacts.
- Reduced risks—New building techniques increase quality and durability, and reduce costly callbacks.
Environmental Benefits of a Green Home to the Community
The Home of the Future also benefits the environment by:
- Reducing peak demand—The Home of the Future reduces the need for generating expensive energy at times of highest demand, reducing the need for new capital investment in generation facilities and/or the purchase of additional power.
- Reducing the potential for future utility rate increases—By reducing peak power demand, SMUD saves money by not having to purchase as much power from other sources. This means less need for utility rate increases and price fluctuations.
- Helping to meet energy efficiency, solar and renewable energy requirements—The Home of the Future project, and the subsequent increase in energy-efficient homes with renewable energy technologies, help meet California's and SMUD's energy-saving goals.
By producing its own energy, each SMUD Home of the Future Home also comes with a big plus: the good feeling that comes with knowing you are directly reducing carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.