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July 2022 |

Jonathan Scott

Making Jonathan and Zooey’s House Eco-Friendly

When one Park House wall opens … well, they all do, and Jonathan put eco-everything in them. 

If you know anything about me, you know I’m big on creating affordable, equitable, clean energy access for everyone. In fact, I made a whole movie about it. When we first bought the Park House, I knew we wanted to make it more energy efficient … but I didn’t quite anticipate what we ended up doing, after our engineer told us we were going to need to open pretty much every wall to earthquake-proof the house.

And you know the old saying: when one wall opens … well, they all do, and we put eco-everything in them. 

Heating and Cooling

First, let’s talk heat pumps. Heat pump technology has been around forever, but traditionally only offices and commercial buildings have used the technology. A massive shift to heat pump technology is happening now in homes, because it is more cost effective, especially in more temperate climates, and it actually works really well in colder climates, too.

The Park House uses a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system from Carrier, because you can zone pretty much every room in the house separately. So, if Zooey likes to sleep cold, but I want it warmer in the bathroom, no problem. Or if the kids like a different temperature, no problem. Plus, instead of heating or cooling all the air in a home, Carrier’s VRF systems only activate air units when and where you want them. This makes VRF technology one of the most sustainable and efficient ways to use energy, which can result in substantial cost savings.

Electrical and Solar

I’m as big a nerd as anyone when it comes to “smart home” tech, but it’s only worth it to me if I’m saving energy. Well, we hit a smart-home run when it comes to the Park House. We chose SPAN Smart Electrical Panels to control and manage every electrical circuit in the house, right from our phones. They let you turn any circuit on or off remotely, which is great if you think you left something on accidentally. And even cooler, it can tell you when an appliance is about to fail, and which is using too much energy. It allows you to see everything electrically that’s happening in your home.

And that electrical energy is coming from our Tesla solar roof tiles, which have the beauty of a slate roof that’s more authentic to the era of when this home was built. These amazing roof tiles, combined with Tesla’s battery backup, could help us last several days without power if we needed to.

Insulation

Now, producing all that clean energy only matters if you’re keeping it in the house. We all know how notorious old homes are for energy leaks. To solve that problem, we turned to Rockwool insulation, which is fireproof—especially important in Southern California. The entire Park House is wrapped in a two-inch-thick board Rockwool insulation: the exterior walls, the roof, everywhere. When we put it in, we instantly felt the spaces inside get cooler. We also insulated every interior wall and joist cavity, to minimize sound transfer between rooms. It creates a really, peaceful quiet element to the home.

It’s so important to check your insulation, especially in your attic, because a lot of energy loss occurs through the ceiling and roof. It’s also a good idea to check for drafts from your windows and doors, and seal those with expanding foam.

After all these improvements, The Park House came in five times more efficient than the level required for the highest level of green-building certification. That’s something I’m particularly proud of. Even though it’s a large, family house, The Park House will use less grid energy than a small apartment.

Can’t get enough of The Park House? Check out our Inside The Design: The Park House series on YouTube right now!

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