This is a continuation for the previous post https://ajeya.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/smart-homes/. Here, I would like to reflect upon the ingredients that build the smart building. The words to lookout for are smart, green, low carbon, energy efficient, sustainable, eco-friendly living spaces.
The Architecture of the box:
A house is ultimately a box in which we confine our activities to safeguard ourselves from bad weather and ‘predators’. The architecture of the box should never be congested and aweful. We intend to live in spaces that are conducive for a healthy happy time. Most bachelors look at the box (read home) as a pplace to rest their head, take bath and move on. Now, for a bachelor to live happy what is required is defined. What about a family? How about a couple of elderly living their last wishes. What about retirees ? A single space need to capture the imagination of many and incorporate and account for each person’s whimsical fantasies on a conducive habitat. This is a up-hill task involving sociological, psychological and habitual aspects of everyone. Sustainable living spaces have a long lasting life and they should cater to the need of various age groups and prospective dwellers. Architects do a wonderful way to keep the habitat acceptable and durable, while not compromising on the structural aspects of it. Various aspects such as the interior and exterior design, colour combinations, blinds, contours and aesthetics are taken care of.
Technologies at work:
Civil Engineers and traditional/oriental house designers have their own time tested, scientifically proven techniques to make up the box. This box has to withstand the temperatures, humidity, air content – such as salinity near coastal areas and what not. There is a plethora of factors to be considered, but thankfully only a few need the utmost attention. No one would want to live in a 100 % dust free clean box. The idea is to minimise the harmful affects, increase the comfort, within the budget and please the dweller for the time they live. Some structures get refurbished and revamped every 10 years. Hence, variations and modifications can be easily adjusted to the existing box. The various considerations include : – usage of bricks, specifications of marble, granite and tiles, the structural stability as per seismic zone classifications, the knowledge of water tables and variations in climate and wind patterns that may affect the structure.
Everything boils down to one single stuff, money. The rich and poor alike would like to spend only a limited amount for their home, either for rent or for purchase. Now this money is a constraint on how much is to be spent on making the building smarter, greener, intelligent, maverick and what not?.
There is never a perfect design, but their are acceptable and unacceptable designs. the box under consideration would be sustainable if it has the same noble acceptance rate throughout its life time. The sustainability of any structure depends on those who live. Hence utter veneration are bestowed upon a box that had lived upto expectations and sustained generations. The building then acquires a soul, that is not pluck-able from mind of the generations that have lived through it.
Technologies that help sort out the energy issues are always welcome. If something helps reduce cost of the Electricity Board bill what is more satiating? We forget to switch off some appliances and mull over it and spoil our free thinking, sometimes we catch a bus back to switch off the water-heater. Some computers switch off themselves, Air conditioners try to increase their temperature gradually to match the temperature in the morning. There are so many silent technologies. But can each and every light be controlled. Can the Air conditioner be put at the optimum temperature, so that the best thermal comfort is available. Is it possible by technology to satisfy each and every one of these wants? There are urinals which work automatically, sensor fitted taps and occupancy based lighting. Adding more brilliance and automation into appliances do cost. This should be in acceptable range for the facility it provides. A true trade-off would be how much you can get concerned about the energy usage and cost of automation. If you can be careful and switch off unwanted items then what can be a better control. This is because you know how comfortable you are better than some technologies do. That is a truth.
If the box is located in a nice very hot sultry area then you have all the possibilities to have a solar panel and start generating the energy needed for the home. This is like direct to home connection. You tap directly from the sun for your usage. If you are on vacation and the solar panel faithfully works out to give electricity , you may feed it to the electrical grid and generate money. This is useful. The same works for windy places. Feed the excess produce to the grid , count how much you have given and get money for it. Such mini power plants could harvest for self sustaining homes in addition to generating some money. There are devices that make the electrical grids smarter to make this smart technology work. USA is in the process of implementation of the same through NSF funded projects, research, development and deployment
Technology does not turn any stone un-turned. Technology tries to automate many stuffs that you are forgetful about. It tries to generate electricity give you money and also judge how good you are feeling. Algorithms, programs and embedded systems in ubiquitous computing make this possible. this increases your comfort level physically and mentally.
That all these smart homes and technologies will really satisfy anyone for a long time is yet to be tested. Deployment of smart grids, smart buildings and smart technology are happening world over at a good space. Customer may get to give his feedback very soon and it will not be disappointing.