Honda Smart Home Points California To 2020 ZNE Goal

A year after unveiling a demo domicile in Japan, Honda is bringing its EV-charging high-IQ home concept to the United States.

The carmaker broke ground this week on the Honda Smart Home project on the campus on the University of California, Davis. This is the abode of the future – “zero net energy,” Honda said, matching the mandate California has set for new residential construction by 2020 – but it will be built by the end of the year.

honda smart home uc davis

image via American Honda Motor Co.

Honda House (my catchy name for it) will come with enough rooftop solar “to generate, on average, more electricity from onsite renewable power than it will receive from its electric utility provider.” And while they’re at it, those photovoltaic panels will grab sufficient sunlight to power a commuter’s all-electric vehicle – like, say, the Honda Fit EV – to work and back each day.

That car fueling will be made all the more efficient, Honda said, by using “direct solar PV-to-vehicle charging,” aka “PV-to-EV.” That means direct current flows from the rooftop goes right into the vehicle avoiding the DC-to-AC (the normal conversion that solar power undergoes for household use or to go back on the grid) then AC-to-DC (for the car) rigmarole.

Helping make all this work will be the Honda Energy Management System, which Honda says will “ctively manage energy use and communicate with the homeowner and utility provider, allowing the home to maximize its energy efficiency while responding to the needs of the electrical grid, thereby minimizing the impacts of solar generation and electric vehicle charging on the utility grid.”

The house will take advantage of high-efficiency HVAC and lighting systems as Honda aims to “achieve top-level green building certifications from the major U.S. ratings systems.”

That’s fairly prosaic stuff, LEED Platinum or whatever it turns out to be. But Honda deserves props for being a carmaker looking to point the way toward integrating transportation into green living (beyond the usual green-home pretense of building near mass transit).

“Home energy use and personal mobility account for most of an individual’s carbon emissions,”   Steve Center, VP for environmental business development for Honda’s American operations, said in a statement. “By addressing both sources together, we are advancing technologies that will reduce carbon and eventually transform home design.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.