Why Honda is Building Net Zero Homes

April 30, 2014

Must watch video above.


In the future, auto companies won’t just build cars. They’ll build cars that are part of the energy infrastructure, providing back up storage for the solar panels on your roof, andreinforcing the wider electricity grid. They could even play a role in developing smart homes and technologies.

You can see as much from a prototype smart home recently opened by Honda in California. It features an enormous 9.5-kilowatt solar array, a 10-kilowatt-hour home battery unit to store excess power, Honda’s home energy management system to control the whole thing, and, of course, its electric vehicle in the garage. Designed to be energy-efficient anyway, the house produces more power than it consumes, which means its owner could actually make money from the power company.

Honda isn’t the only car-maker getting into the whole sustainable lifestyle thing. Ford also built a show-home incorporating its cars and a range of green features. And Tesla is nowselling batteries for home use as well as for use in its vehicles. But this house, which Honda developed with a lot of help from the University of California, Davis, might be the most impressive. 

23 Responses to “Why Honda is Building Net Zero Homes”

  1. Freaking brilliant!

  2. It’s only missing the vegetable garden. 😉

  3. Mike Dever Says:

    Honda says a lot and does Nothing.
    Let me know when they get into Volume Production.

  4. jimbills Says:

    While I appreciate a lot of the features in this design, the overall concept is just going to be another status symbol for the wealthy. This house will easily cost in the $500K range even in areas with very low land values.

    The really freaking brilliant people to me are the ones working in relative anonymity for little to no monetary profit. They’re my heroes – not the corporate behemoths whose only products are the ones that will tie us down further to a neo-feudal system of debt slavery.



    • andrewfez Says:

      It’s probably the geothermal stuff that makes the home expensive. I’m thinking a person could just drill 6 or 10 feet under their bottom floor and lay in some PVC pipe that’s been made into a long U shape, where the end of each side would become a floor register. A small fan in one register that would force air through the contraption could supply a living room with cool air for the summer. Of course you have to figure out the moister barrier under the floor and pack the pipe tight in sand/soil that water doesn’t collect in the hole, but such is certainly cheaper than a geothermal setup.

    • rayduray Says:

      Thanks for that collection of links. Nice library of thought there.

      My favorite though has to be this item linked in one of the blogs:

      Follow The Frog:


      No endorsement intended on my behalf. I just send this out for the laughs. 🙂

    • uknowispeaksense Says:

      I was reading just recently a psychology blogpost about the most effective way to overcome the apathy of people who on one hand accept the evidence for climate change yet don’t make the necessary changes to overcome it. One of the suggestions was for those that have the capacity to make changes could be to tap into the oneupsmanship that neighbours tend to engage in. If the very wealthy engaged in a sustainability/zero carbon game of oneupsmanship that would be an awesome thing. You never know, a massive uptake of these technologies cold force the price down as the greedy also engage in a game of getting the best bargains too. Bottom line is we are never going to have a utopia where everyone is equally wealthy anyway, so why not tap into greed and narcissism as a way of bringing about positive environmental change?

      • jimbills Says:

        Essentially because there are competing cultural frameworks – collectivist vs. individualist. The West is a form of hyper-individualism. The purest example of it is the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

        If we encourage individualism, it hardens that culture to only be open to individualist answers. Unfortunately, most environmental issues require collectivist approaches because the answers come in the form of benefitting the group over the individual. Most environmental protection measures boil down to telling individuals and companies that they can’t do certain things, because the focus is on the good of the group over the good of the individual.

        Politically, you might see where I’m going with this. Obviously the individualist approach is favored by the right and the collectivist approach is favored by the left. Encouraging individualist responses leads to mindsets that favor individualist answers. In such a way, the culture would naturally move further and further right politically, and I don’t think it’s an aberration that we are doing just that in the West.

        In a very real way, the oneupmanship of neighbor vs. neighbor, the hyper-individualist approach, is WHY we’re doomed to failure. It certainly does lead to material wealth on the individual level, but it also leads to excess over excess over excess, and the environmental carrying capacity balance sheet gets out of whack.

        Plus, people don’t compete to have less, which is really what my links are about. It’s about making do with less, and being happy about that. We place so much value on human ingenuity except when it comes to adapting to scarcity instead of abundance (techno-optimism). We can live (non-materially) rich, full lives with a fraction of what we have now. But we’re not going to compete our way there – our programming doesn’t work that way. There’s a reason why the guy with the Ferrari gets more play than the guy with a beat-up Kia.

        BTW, I’m not saying that communism (one collectivist system) solves global warming. I’m just saying that encouraging individualism isn’t the answer.

        • uknowispeaksense Says:

          I dont disagree with you but I am curious to know how you are going to turn the individualists into collectivists? In my country that is more than half the population.

          • jimbills Says:

            You can’t, really. Unfortunately, it took the Great Depression to bring about the New Deal (collectivist). If we tried to pass the New Deal in the 1920’s (individualist), it would have laughed out of town.

            Things change – realities change. But our current situation is hopeless in the West. Sorry. I just think we shouldn’t encourage a further shift to the right (individualist).

            I think a reality change is highly probable during the coming years. We almost had one with the housing bust, but we clawed our way out (while making a larger hole even deeper). So, I see the above links as good forerunners to what’s coming. They are the advanced thinkers in my book – not guys at Honda making a house way too expensive for 90% of the population.

            Cyhalothorin mentioned in the previous post (China and coal) about how climate change denial doesn’t really exist in the East. That’s a really interesting point, actually, because the Asian countries have long been a more collectivist culture than an individualist one. A big (perhaps the main) reason why we have climate change denial is because of individualism vs. collectivism. The right believes in individualism passionately, therefore external threats that require collectivist action are not possible. The East doesn’t have that in their equation – they’ve always been fine with collectivist action, therefore, little to no climate change denial.

          • uknowispeaksense Says:

            Fair to say the world will collectively get a wakeup call at some point and it may not be too far into the future.

            When I was going through university I took whatever job I could get and it turned out to be night shiftwork in a fairly menial task. One bloke I worked with is what we call a prepper today. He was a very rare person in Australia. To be honest, he had more than a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock but if ever you had to be stuck with someone in a survival situation, he’d be the one….if you could put up with all his conspiracy ideation and general crazymaking.

            For myself, my plan is to retire to Tasmania in a decade or so and go feral. I already have many of the skills (and the stomach) for self sufficiency and a large number of those “alternate” ideas are already well and truly in my plans.

  5. […] Must watch video above. FastCoExist: In the future, auto companies won't just build cars. They'll build cars that are part of the energy infrastructure, providing back up storage for the solar pane…  […]

  6. rayduray Says:

    Let’s see. Honda is teaming up with UC-Davis on this effort. UC-Davis is California’s renowned agricultural school. The homes that Honda is proposing are probably destined for subdivisions in the Central Valley, where they will sequester some of the world’s most productive agricultural lands for the sake of suburban spawl. OK, you may not entirely agree, but still, the amount of prime agricultural land in California devoted to ag is diminishing every year and the number of net-consumptive subdivisions grows. At some date, a tipping point is reached. We might be seeing the outline of this as we look at the price of a lime today. Whereas there formerly were abundant citrus groves throughout SoCal and the southern Central Valley, these groves are being replaced with suburban housing units. In the meantime, 97% of the limes consumed in the U.S. no longer come from California, Florida or Texas. They come from Mexico. Have we reached that tipping point where we as a nation can no longer feed ourselves because we’ve paved over paradise and put up a parking lot?

    $1.59 for a lime at the local market says this is worth considering. Or viewed another way, at wholesale, a case of 200 limes cost $40 one year ago and $109 last week here in Central Oregon.

    Furthermore, I’m currently reading “Dam Nation” by Stephen Grace. I’m just getting to the chapter on paleoclimatology. Here’s a humdinger of a quote to ponder: “a classic case of people building themselves beyond the carrying capacity of the land.” Hopefully, you are starting to note a theme here. There’s more:


    Oh my. back to back 220 year and 140 year droughts? Holy mother of god. The worst we’ve seen in the modern record since 1849 is a stretch of about six years of the mildly dry. We may have reason to wonder if the aspiring engineers at UC-Davis working with Honda are actually working on the right problem? I’d say the odds are damn good that the Honda houses are not the answer to the potentially devastating droughts that paleoclimatology has identified and that climate scientists predict is only going to get more dire due to global warming and the desertification of the U.S. Southwest. Ask the Anasazi how this goes, eh?

    I offer this as food for thought, but hold off on that margaritas until you can afford the limes. 🙂

  7. lesliegraham1 Says:

    This design is still pathetic if you ask me.
    Not that anyone did of course.
    It’s decades behind current cutting edge low-tech technology which is in fact being developed by unfunded amateurs – same as always.
    Honda literaly need to go back to the drawing board with this resource hungry junk.

  8. climatebob Says:

    Solar panels on my roof saves me $1200 a year on my electricity bill but I need a deal on a small runabout car. http://www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz/clean-energy-alternatives.html

  9. dumboldguy Says:

    Been away and off the net. Good points all, especially from uknow and jimbills.

    Now about 1/3 through Gilding’s The Great Disruption, and liking his ideas that the mathematics of growth is going to defeat us no matter what “high” (and ultimately unaffordable by individuals) technology we may employ. We are beyond the point of sustainability with the present economic model and consumer mind-set, and if we don’t adopt the “collectivism-communitarianism” approach soon, all it means is that the “disruption” and suffering that will force it upon us will be more severe.

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