Technology in Action: LEED-Certified ‘Eco-House’
Innovative Electronic Systems (IES), an electronic systems contractor in Hurt, Va. partnered with Custom Structures, a Central Virginia architectural design and build firm, to build the first LEED-certified home in the central Virginia area. This residence, called the Eco-House, was intended to be a model home to educate the public regarding new energy-efficient systems and “green” principles, products and services that are locally available.
Lynchburg’s first Eco-House needed to conserve energy and water, contribute less waste to landfills and reduce harmful greenhouse emissions. In addition, the Eco-House needed to provide a healthier and safer environment for its occupants and demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship.
IES had to work within the mechanical, plumbing and electrical contractor’s schedules. IES’s part started after those contractors were 90% complete of rough in so that all systems could be connected and integrated through the Elk M1 control.
IES worked most closely with the HVAC contractor because that was the most complex part of IES’s
integration. The home has a sophisticated HVAC system utilizing radiant heating through solar panels and a series of pumps and storage tanks which transfer the hot water through the home flooring as well as a chilled water tank to provide the cooling. The water temperature is set to be maintained at 55°F and a pump controlled by the M1 provides chilled water to the air handler for cooling.
According to Jeremy Shelton, president of IES, “We selected Elk Products M1 control as the ‘brains’ of
the home. We needed to control the home security system, the full HVAC system including radiant floor heating and ceiling fans, lighting and flood protection. Elk’s M1 was selected as the cross platform control because it is a robust system that offered the flexibility and scalability we needed for this project.”
The following outlines the systems installed and some specifics surrounding the components:
• Fourteen (14) wireless window contacts
• Two (2) wireless recessed door contacts
• Two (2) garage door contacts
M1 rules were set so that when the system was armed, the garage doors would automatically close. The panel is also set so that when the security system is armed, the temperature is adjusted appropriately for night or away.
• One (1) AprilAire 8870 thermostat
• Four (4) Elk zone temperature sensors
Elk zone temperature sensors located in each bedroom were used to monitor temperature in each room. When the temperature of any room goes out of acceptable range, the zone temperature sensors alert the M1. The M1 takes action by energizing a relay that activates the appropriate pumps or fans of the heating or cooling system. For cooling, the M1 was programmed to utilize the three ceiling fans as the 1st stage of mechanical cooling (controlled by UPB switches). A reverse chiller is controlled via the
AprilAire thermostat and Elk relay board. For heating, the M1 activates pumps that deliver hot water through the hydronic radiant floor heating system. IES wrote rules for the M1 to make these actions occur.
• Three (3) 600w UPB switches to control ceiling fans in bedrooms
• Three (3) 600w UPB switches to control lights in bedrooms
• Three (3) 1000w UPB switches to control outdoor lights
• Four (4) remote 3-way switches
The M1 turns off all lighting when armed in “Away” mode. Sensors were installed in closets to operate the lights when the doors are opened and closed.
• Two (2) toilets
• One (1) ice maker
• One (1) laundry
FloodStop™ products were installed to prevent water damage. The M1 sends a text message to alert the homeowner when a FloodStop sensor is violated. Flood control also helps reduce wasteful water usage.
Why did you select Elk Products for this application?
Shelton said, “We chose M1 because of its exceptional rules capability and ease of programming. We found the M1 enabled us to do everything the builder wanted us to do. The system was very intuitive and subsystems could do specific things we needed.” Shelton continued, “We took product training classes at Elk’s headquarters and found their trainers to be very knowledgeable and helpful.”
What Elk Products M1 components were used in the application?
• One (1) ELK 7” touch screen
• One (1) ELK KP2 keypad
• Android smartphone and ElkDroid App
ELK Components Used for Project
• One (1) M1GKS
• One (1) SWB28
• One (1) M1XRF2
• One (1) M1XEP
• One (1) ELK950
• One (1) TS071
• Three (3) M1XSP
• One (1) M1RB
• One (1) M1XOVR
• One (1) M1XIN
• Three (3) M1ZTS
• One (1) M1ZTSR
• ELKRM Designer to customize Touch Screen
What educational elements are featured in the house?
• Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating System
• 2x6 Exteriors with ½” closed cellulose and R-19 Batt Insulation
• R-50 Roof Insulation
• Passive Radon Reduction System
• Reverse Chilled Water System with Storage Tanks
• Solar Collector for Potable Water as well as Radiant Floor
• Southern Exposure Operable Window Shading
• Water Collection System and Rain Garden
• Low VOC Materials
• Local Materials
• Energy Recovery Ventilator
• Smart House Controllability
• Low Flow Faucets and shower heads
• Direct vent fireplace
• Recycled glass counter tops
• Pervious Concrete Sidewalk
• Building Orientation
• Recycled Construction Waste… Only 2.25 yards went to the land fill
The biggest concerns IES faced were cost restraints. They were given a budget and that amount was used to determine the design. In order to meet financial limitations, IES had to remove the distributed audio. In addition, IES designed and installed the system at their cost. However, IES was agreeable to this because they would get to promote their company during the Expo (explained below). The risk paid off for IES as they are now integrating the largest custom home being built in central Virginia, which is an 18,000-square-foot residence.
What was the result of this project?
The Eco-House was the first model home for the Lynchburg Green Building Initiative. The house attained a LEED Gold status as part of the United States Green Building Council. As part of the project, Lynchburg Green Building Initiative hosted a Green Building Expo. Attendees were directed to the Eco-House. Small portions of construction were left open to public viewing so that visitors could better understand why this house was LEED certified and energy efficient.
This home was constructed with such features as hydronic radiant flooring, R-50 insulation, a reverse chiller system, 18 heat pumps, Energy Star-rated lighting and plumbing fixtures, complete roof runoff water storage, proper building orientation to collect solar gain, pest control alternatives, local wood materials, mold resistant and locally harvested framing lumber, low VOC materials such as carpet, painting and adhesives, indoor air purification, carbon monoxide and radon prevention methods, smart house controllability and monitoring of systems for maximum efficiency, instant hot water system and 2x6 perimeter framing to name a few.
The benefit to the homeowners, aside from being environmentally conscious citizens, is that their winter power bills have been as low as $30 a month. This is especially notable considering the location and the size of the home. The homeowner is currently using his smartphone with the ElkDriod app to remotely arm and disarm his system, open and close his garage door and adjust temperature in the house.