Green + Wired = One Smart HomeSmarthome

Innovations in "smart" and "green" technologies are on display at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.

This smart home can practically operate itself. The 2,500-square-foot, three-story, prefabricated home, built on the grounds of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, showcases how sustainable materials, "smart" automation of lighting and HVAC systems, and eco-friendly practices and products can fit into any home owner’s lifestyle. 

The exhibit "Smart Home: Green + Wired," features more than 200 "green" and smart home products—from motorized skylights that open when detectors sense a cool breeze to kitchen counters and bathroom tiles made from recycled glass. 

The exhibit, which ends its eight-month run Jan. 4, 2009, features a modular home designed by architect Michelle Kaufmann and built by All American Homes. 

While some of these features would require a rehab, many others, from low-flow showerheads to a countertop composter, would work for any home owner eager to add a little green.

Central Everything2_panel

From a panel on a wall, you can control and monitor all the home’s systems and review energy and water use. The system helps achieve optimum comfort with minimal power usage by coordinating lighting, window coverings, heat, and air conditioning. The home also includes built-in Wi-Fi, a housewide audio system, and electronic security.



Sustainable Living


Large windows, sliding doors, and a three-story skylight take advantage of natural light and make the space look larger, a sense heightened by the neutral palette throughout. The house also features a green interior, with low-VOC paints, bamboo flooring, and furnishings made from recycled or renewable materials. For example, recycled t-shirts were used for the sofa upholstery and an ash wood dining table was made from a fallen tree.

Roof Top Power, Insulation6_rooftop

A green-roof garden of drought-tolerant plants provides year-round insulation, while solar panels harness the power of the sun to provide most of the home’s electricity. The innovative photovoltic film works in shade and even generates electricity through much of Chicago’s cold, cloudy winter. At ground level are native plants and water permeable pavements; rain barrels are used to hydrate the garden, conserving drinking-quality water.

Photos by JB Spector, Museum of Science and Industry © 2008
Melissa Dittmann Tracey is associate online editor of REALTOR® magazine.