What Makes A Smart Home ‘Smart’ in 2021?

With the sweepstakes for HGTV’s Smart Home 2021 recently ending, the air is buzzing with technological excitement and interest. The most recent design features an indoor garden with a hydroponic growing station and a built-in lighting system, built in steps with storage space and thoughtfully placed outlets, and a wireless charging countertop in the kitchen to name a few. These features are pretty appealing, I don’t think anyone here at Architecture Plus would turn down a wireless charging countertop in their home, but reviewing this piqued my curiosity in what really makes a home ‘smart’, especially in 2021.


The key features of a smart home are typically associated with ways technology can seamlessly blend and assist in our daily lives. The countertop is a great example of this, as it’s pretty normal for people to come home and set their belongings from the day on the kitchen or bar counter. Once upon a time, when people daydreamed about homes from the future, their thoughts may turn to something more commonly associated with The Jetsons with over-the-top, colorful, unnecessary features. A real smart home has more time and energy devoted to what could by all technicality be described as ‘home owner experience’. 


Questions such as, ‘How much time do they spend in different parts of the home?’, ‘What are they doing more often in different places?’, and ‘What would be ideal and helpful to improve the home experience?’ would be great topics to elaborate on. This is how features like outlets’ common places changing to more typical areas around the home as our lives become more technologically dependent, app integration with appliances, and home management features like security, AC, and lighting combining into one control system, become more and more commonplace as residential architecture and home design improves. 


The number one factor of what defines a true smart home is how these features interact with each other, and whether they interact seamlessly. Can you lock your back door from an app? Can you modify your AC settings or turn on the lights while you’re at work? If you ask Alexa where your keys are, can she tell you? Or do your plant pots let you know when your greenery needs more water? There are so many ways modern technology can interact with your home and the way you live in it to create a smart home experience.


One thing we like to focus on here at Architecture Plus is creating eco-friendly designs and contributing to the architectural industry with new ideas and ways to improve! Smart homes are often associated with ‘green living’ because of eco-friendly focuses because they offer a variety of features to save energy and water, and limit waste. Smart thermostats can give you the power to minimize your carbon footprint by allowing you to adjust your AC when you’re far from home to save on energy. Smart LED’s are praised for saving energy and providing some security as well because with the right devices, you can control your home’s lighting while you’re away to make it appear like someone is home. Smart window treatments can help your home cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter in order to save energy (and help your AC out in the process). For all of our gardeners out there, smart irrigation can help you save thousands of gallons of water per year by monitoring the space of your yard and knowing when and how much to water it! Remember how the 2021 HGTV Smart Home had an indoor garden? In a preview for it, it was listed that the potting area for the plant actually allowed app connection to where they could be maintained and cared for as recommended. Talk about a digital green thumb! 


We’re sure you’re picking up by now that what primarily makes a home ‘smart’ is the technology’s connections within it, and that’s partly true. A big factor of what allows all of those wonderful technological advancements to happen though first start within the actual construction of the residential or commercial home. That’s right, being smart isn’t just limited to homes. You can have a smart office or warehouse as well, and that adaptation can already be seen in businesses all around us! Green Architecture and eco-friendly focused architecture design is the prioritized method of minimizing negative effects structures have on the surrounding environment. This requires low-impact design that takes into consideration the way the build is designed, how it’s constructed throughout the duration of the project, what materials are used in constructing it, and how can the structure continue to provide eco-friendly results long after the project’s finished? For a place like Charleston, this may even add in hurricane preparedness to resiliency guidelines for longer lasting structures should a hurricane or tropical storm affect it!

We believe that taking time to focus on the way the residential architecture and commercial architecture we design impacts the environment around us is a way for us to do our part in being green. So what makes a building truly ‘green’ now that we’ve reviewed what it means to be ‘smart’? There are many ways to attribute to eco friendly, green architectural design:

    • Considerate and efficient use of energy, water, and space
    • Set up or utilize solar energy
    • Enabling re-use and recycling of materials from the construction
    • Limiting or measure pollution and waste from construction
    • Designing the structure to have efficient and beneficial indoor environmental air quality
    • Focusing on using non-toxic and sustainable materials during construction
    • Planning and consideration for future occupants within the space
    • Consideration for the wildlife and surrounding environment around the construction
    • Efficient and practical energy sources and electricity established
    • And any additions of integrated smart home technology like the ones we listed before!

A smart home can be a green home and vice versa, and this combo isn’t exclusive to only residential living spaces either! If you’re interested in your own smart, green home, or maybe you’re bummed you didn’t win HGTV’s Smart Home 2021, reach out to us! We can help make your dream a reality by building and designing the perfect residential or commercial building for you, all you have to do is reach out to learn more.