Mother Earth Living

Get Smart: The Smart Home

Green + Wired
By Gina Souders
September/October 2008
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The Smart Home’s sustainable gardens feature native landscaping, rainwater harvesting, food production and more.
Photos Courtesy Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

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Outside Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, the Smart Home: Green + Wired—a three-story, 2,500-square-foot modular home designed by Michelle Kaufmann Designs and built by All American Homes—features reused and reusable resources and innovative energy-efficiency technologies. It is almost twice as efficient as an Energy Star home and three times as efficient as a typical Chicago bungalow. The exhibit is open through January 4, 2009.


• GREEN ROOF SYSTEM includes a photovoltaic solar film, which provides much of the electricity, and a roof garden to add insulation and reduce stormwater runoff.

• HOME AUTOMATION SYSTEM saves energy and money by simplifying the automated control of lighting, window coverings, heating, air conditioning, audio and security. A motorized skylight turns off air conditioning and opens when it detects a cool breeze.

• HEATING, VENTILATION AND AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEMS use narrower ducts than traditional systems, which make the air flow from the vents faster, heating or cooling a room in less time.

• DUAL-PANE, LOW-EMISSIVITY WINDOWS by Pella Windows and Doors optimize energy  efficiency, natural lighting and ventilation, saving 10 to 24 percent on heating and cooling.

Additional features:

• Chandelier is made from recycled light bulbs.
• Icynene spray-in-place insulation reduces energy consumption by up to 50 percent and doesn’t offgas VOCs.
• Concrete bowl is made from countertop over-pours.
• Zero-VOC interior paints provided by Yolo Colorhouse.
• Midcentury chairs from a resale shop were reupholstered in Brentano Fabrics biodegradable faux leather.
• Table is made from fallen ash tree with low-VOC finish.
• High-strength Warmboard tongue-and-groove plywood subfloor panel—combined with a low-mass, radiant heat floor panel—creates a radiant subfloor that heats space with low water temperatures, reducing energy costs by 20 to 40 percent.

For more information on the Smart Home exhibit, visit

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