written by:
July 1, 2014
The University of California, Davis, and automaker Honda team up on a concept that explores energy efficiency and emerging green technology in a residential context.
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home facade
In the West Village neighborhood of Davis, a college town located 15 miles west of Sacramento, teams at Honda and UC Davis kitted out a 1,945-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom house with experimental and on-the-market technology to accomplish net-zero energy consumption. With smart home concepts continuing to build momentum, the definition is steadily becoming refined but is still open to interpretation. "Although smart-home demos often focus on gadgets, the 'smart' in Honda Smart Home refers to an intense focus on energy efficiency, energy management, and sustainability," says project leader Michael Koenig.
1 / 11
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home Garage
UC Davis has been leading the way in net-zero construction and energy research for years. Recognizing that homes and cars are responsible for just shy of half of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, the project is a foray into how automobiles can factor into the efficiency equation. "UC Davis and the Davis community have launched some of the most innovative housing models in the country, from cooperative housing to solar villages to zero-net-energy at the neighborhood scale," says Bob Segar, UC Davis Assistant Vice Chancellor, Campus Planning and Community Resources. "The next entry is the Honda Smart Home—it's showing how the electric car can be managed as your house's biggest appliance." The house features a 9.5kW solar array, which produces direct current. The charger was adapted to accept power directly from the panels without any conversion loss.
2 / 11
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home

Adele Chang and Mark Rohling of Pasadena firm Lim Chang Rohling & Associates designed the house, which is three times more water efficient than a typical house hold. The garden is xeriscaped and irrigated with graywater.

The garden is also a source of energy for the residence. "We worked with the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center to design an experimental ground-source radiant heating and cooling system that captures thermal energy from eight boreholes in the garden," Koenig says. "This type of borehole has the promise of dramatically reducing the cost of geothermal HVAC systems in the future." This video explains the mechanics and "thermal heart" of the home.

3 / 11
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home living room
The house uses about half as much energy as a conventional residence in the area. Over the course of a year, it is projected to produce 2.6 megawatt-hours of energy while a comparable home will consume 13.3 megawatt-hours. "This offsets nearly 13,100 pounds of CO2 annually," Koenig says. "Plus, it uses renewable electricity to power driving." To accomplish this level of energy savings, the architects designed a structure that would consume less. "We set out to build an extremely efficient envelope using passive design techniques, optimizing the house layout, windows, and insulation. Then we added extremely efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems, as well as appliances," Koenig says. "The passive design techniques resulted in an open space with tons of natural light. It’s a beautiful environment to spend time in." A Silva Giant LED floor lamp by Laguna Beach-based designers Cerno, Kristina sofa by Ekla Home, Loop coffee table by Arktura, area rug from Shaw, and end table from Iannone Design furnish the living room.
4 / 11
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home office
Sustainable materials feature prominently in the design. "We focused on using sustainable materials wherever possible," Koenig says. "The entire house is constructed with FSC-certified lumber. Concrete is very CO2 intensive, so we used volcanic ash to replace half the cement needed for the foundation slab. And rather than cover the slab with wood, we polished it to create a beautiful, durable finish."
5 / 11
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home office with murphy bed

The task chair in the den is from Herman Miller, the side chair is from Peter Danko Design, and the area rug is from Shaw. By pulling down the Murphy bed, the den becomes a guest room.

6 / 11
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home kitchen

The kitchen features polished-concrete floors, a Cambria countertop, and an Energy-Star rated refrigerator from Kitchen Aid. The cooktop, oven, and dishwasher are from Bosch. "With the exception of the experimental technologies, everything we’ve used is available off the shelf," Koenig says. "What really sets this project apart is that we’ve put all the pieces together. Everyone out there building a home should start with passive design and a well-insulated envelope."

7 / 11
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home bedroom

The backsplash is from Heath Ceramics, the sink is Kohler, and the custom millwork is by Schmidt's Cabinetry.

8 / 11
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home
Lighting throughout the house is exclusively solid-state LED and was developed to complement the body’s natural circadian rhythm. "This technology is also used on the international space station," Koenig says. "Blue-ish hues are emitted in the morning, and amber tones are emitted at night. Honda worked with researchers from the California Lighting Technology Center at UC Davis to explore the circadian color control logic."
9 / 11
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home
In the powder room, the vanity surface is Silestone, the sink is Kohler, and the faucet is Brizo. The drawer pulls are from Siro designs. An instant hot water system from Eemax was installed.
10 / 11
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home bedroom

Beginning this fall, the house will be occupied by someone from the UC Davis community. For more on the project, visit hondasmarthome.com.

11 / 11
UC Davis and Honda Smart Home facade
In the West Village neighborhood of Davis, a college town located 15 miles west of Sacramento, teams at Honda and UC Davis kitted out a 1,945-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom house with experimental and on-the-market technology to accomplish net-zero energy consumption. With smart home concepts continuing to build momentum, the definition is steadily becoming refined but is still open to interpretation. "Although smart-home demos often focus on gadgets, the 'smart' in Honda Smart Home refers to an intense focus on energy efficiency, energy management, and sustainability," says project leader Michael Koenig.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

marcel breuer architect letter office kansas city snower house
See a glimpse into the office of a master architect.
May 01, 2016
Santa Monica living room with an Yves Klein coffee table
Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron talks us through Dwell's May 2016 issue.
May 01, 2016
house that sottsass built maui hawaii memphis group home renovation ettore facade colored volumes
In Maui, of all places.
May 01, 2016
two of a kind padua italy matching family homes facade green roof doors color
For Dwell's annual issue dedicated to dream homes , we visited homes from Haiti to Italy. Here, we introduce you to the photographers and writers who made it happen.
April 30, 2016
houseofweek
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
April 30, 2016
W House living room
Our best reader reactions this week.
April 29, 2016
Vineyard house illuminated at night
Rammed-earth construction fuses this Portuguese house to the environment.
April 29, 2016
vintage Scandinavian furniture Kathryn Tyler
In southwest England, interior designer Kathryn Tyler built her home around her ever-expanding furniture collection.
April 29, 2016
steel facade home Seattle
On the sandy shores of Fauntleroy Cove in Seattle, renowned firm Olson Kundig Architects crafts a subtle home with striking steel accents.
April 29, 2016
seperate piece renovated guesthouse eames storage unit cork floor tiles living room
An architect and an interior designer put the tools to the test for this impressive renovation.
April 29, 2016
Ceramics by WrenLab
Manhattan doesn’t get to have all the fun during NYCxDesign. Brooklyn is set for the return of BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few exhibitors we are excited to see this year.
April 29, 2016
n0a6974 dxo
Architect Diego Revollo refreshes an apartment with a standout kitchen.
April 29, 2016
img 8652 1
The city of San Francisco has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of SFMOMA for years—and as the May 14th opening approaches closer everyday, the anticipation continues to build for art enthusiasts both near and far. This morning, we were given the opportunity to explore the newly expanded space before the crowds roll in. After a series of speeches, remarks, and tours, we left the grounds feeling thoroughly inspired and excited to share what we discovered.
April 28, 2016
gramercy 1 ar53319
A family doesn’t have to travel far for a private oasis away from the busy city.
April 28, 2016
Renovation of 1967 Hamburg apartment with Vipp kitchen.
In our April issue, we showcased an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, with a striking, matte-black kitchen from Vipp. The 77-year-old company became famous for its iconic pedal trash can before venturing into kitchens and other tools for the home. This isn't the first time that the Danish company's products have graced our pages, and here we've gathered additional examples from our archive that show how the brand's minimalist black kitchens are always a win in modern interiors.
April 28, 2016
Zafra residence living room.
A man and his wife make an emotional return to an apartment building he loved as a kid.
April 28, 2016
the garden inside concrete dining pavilion indoor outdoor custom cabinets thermador dishwasher refrigerator
A skylit conservatory doubles as a verdant dining parlor in Sonoma County, California.
April 28, 2016
Details of the Calico collection.
Calico Wallpaper founders Nick and Rachel Cope showed us through their home in our March Issue, now step inside their studio.
April 28, 2016
william krisel pow 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
April 27, 2016
Dwell on Design and designjunction at ArtBeam
It's all part of Dwell on Design + designjunction's three-day event, featuring a program of talks chock-full of leading figures in design, architecture, urbanism, and beyond—coming up May 13-15 at ArtBeam in New York.
April 27, 2016
seattles mariners floating house prefab facade exterior fiber cement panels
A prefabricated floating home drops anchor in the Pacific Northwest.
April 27, 2016
royan treatment living room stone fireplace vintage new furnishings
French designer Florence Deau effortlessly mixes the old with the new.
April 27, 2016
modern netherlands 13 noordeinde schoolhouse parquet herringbone floors stove
Take a lesson from this school-turned-home.
April 27, 2016
The sidewalks of Copacabana in Rio De Janero, Brazil, designed by Roberto Burle Marx
The Jewish Museum in New York City takes it outside with a celebration of the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.
April 26, 2016
Waterfront home in Belvedere, California
A 1960s home infested with powderpost beetles had to be sacrificed before this this Zen-inspired house could happen.
April 26, 2016
dialogue house
At the base of Echo Mountain in Phoenix, a geometric home by Wendell Burnette opens up to the surrounding desert landscape.
April 26, 2016
street smarts kitchen full view
A creative couple transforms an old Toronto storefront in Dundas West into a home and studio.
April 26, 2016
hald strand
This architect thinks of everything for his summer escape, pizza oven included.
April 26, 2016
gans turin residence living room
Thanks to a contemporary interior that she’s been updating for a decade, modern architect Abigail Turin has learned to love her traditional 1925 San Francisco home.
April 25, 2016
131
Johannesburg-based design studio Counterspace was founded in 2014 by young architecture graduates Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers, and Amina Kaskar. Their projects are collaborative, research-led investigations into possible futures and ideas of otherness in Johannesburg.
April 25, 2016