PSFK Labs looks at how new technology make our homes more environmentally intelligent places.
Seemingly everywhere we look we encounter products boasting how ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ they are with respect to reducing energy usage. There is no doubt that as consumers, we are coming to expect greater efficiency from the products that we own, and this shift is increasingly reflected in the marketplace. Couple that with a growing knowledge base and education around how finite our natural resources really are, and we can expect this mindset is something that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
Yet for all the products with sustainability at their core, we still remain saddled with some rather dire statistics around wasted resources. Research from the NY Times shows that 20% of the energy that we use in our commercial and residential buildings is wasted. What’s more, the book Use Less, Save More reports that Americans now use 127% more water than we did in 1950, with a staggering 95% of it going down the drain.
However, the challenge has posed a great opportunity for designers, who are not only looking to reduce, but instead overhaul the system completely, creating closed-loop systems, which reinvent resource capture and redistribution altogether. Though still nascent with respect to their technology or availability to the public, these products have implications which extend far beyond the home and are among the most exciting we’ve seen.
In a trend from our Future of Home Living we’re calling Resourceful Design, PSFK Labs looks at how a new range of highly-efficient products and appliances for the home are lowering resource consumption by leveraging a combination of recycling systems and alternative energy sources, or completely rethinking traditional designs. What sets these products apart is their commitment to deliver on these savings without sacrificing high quality performance and experience.
In conversation with Mike Harris, CEO of Zonoff, a software platform for connected home products and appliances, he told us:
We see an overall trend of ‘doing more with less’ that applies in particular to urban living. This means using less energy and resources, while also saving our most precious personal resource – time.
This insight is key, if you consider that ultra-sustainable designs provide no benefit if they’re too cumbersome to use. An example of this trend is the EcoVéa Shower System, which makes your daily shower more efficient through its clever design. Made by Canadian bathroom designers Reveeco, the efficient shower system saves up to 80% of water and energy for every shower.
EcoVéa works by showering the user in a loop of filtered, treated and reused water. To ensure that the head water is clean, used water is collected in a floor drain and sorted by an analytic cell that drains dirty water away and directs clean water through three stages of filtering. Replacing imprecise faucets with an electronic panel, water temperature and pressure are set to the owner’s preference. Pipes are drained after each use, activating an automatic cleaning cycle that maintains cleanliness and extends the lifespan of the system.
For water management solutions to work, it must not require a radical disruption of consumption habits. Romain Jallon, President of Reveeco explains the importance of this kind of thinking on his company’s website:
Water management promises to be one of the biggest challenges of our century. Raising general awareness is definitely a good start, but industry will also have to implement innovative, efficient and affordable technologies to help reduce water consumption.
Another example of Resourceful Design is the solar-powered Window Socket that attaches to any window to harness energy from the sun, and transfers that energy to an internal battery. Designed by Kyuho Song and Boa Oh, the concept device incorporates a simple suction cup that allows it to attach to any window, while built-in solar panels capture the sun’s energy. Owners can then plug in any device to the outlet or save the energy for later use. Additionally, since the product is portable, it lets users take advantage of solar energy to power up a device on the go without needing to find an outlet.
According to the design specs, the charging capacity of the Window Socket currently reaches 1000mAH, and it takes 5 to 8 hours to be charged completely. The battery lasts 10 hours once it is charged.
Emerging technologies like the Window Socket and EcoVéa Shower System fall under the larger theme we’re calling Equilibrium, which points to the way architects and designers are integrating feelings of balance, health, and well-being into people’s living spaces and everyday lives.
PSFK has announced the latest in a series of trend reports. Following studies into retail, social media, gaming, work and mobile, the PSFK Labs consulting team have generated the Future of Home Living report. That report manifests as a free summary presentation, an in-depth downloadable PDF and an exhibition in New York City that runs to August 16.
RSVP below to take a tour of the exhibition at 101W15th.