First homeowners set to move into Alabama Power’s Smart Neighborhood this month

First homeowners set to move into Alabama Power’s Smart Neighborhood this month
Enhanced energy-efficient building features are being used in each home of Smart Neighborhood. (David Macon / Alabama NewsCenter)

Checking in on Smart Neighborhood™ – part one

Smart Neighborhood™ by Alabama Power is quickly moving from a concept to reality, as the first homeowners are scheduled to move into their homes this month.

Smart Neighborhood is a state-of-the-art community of 62 homes in Signature Homes’ new Reynolds Landing community in Ross Bridge in Hoover.

“This project puts us, our customers and our building and technology partners on the leading edge of energy research and development,” said John Hudson, senior vice president of Marketing and Business Development for Alabama Power. “We are excited about the neighborhood’s progress, and look forward to seeing homeowners move in and begin to experience their new homes’ advanced features.”

Each home features emerging energy-efficient technologies, materials and appliances, all connected to the Southeast’s first community-scale microgrid. The microgrid will include solar panels, battery storage and backup generation. Performance data and energy usage will be gathered from the homes’ innovative features and analyzed to provide insight into how homes can be built and function more efficiently.

Information from the HVAC systems, heat pump water heaters and other connected home technologies will help Alabama Power determine new, creative energy solutions for customers.

Work is being done across the board in the project’s three main areas:

Over the next few days, Alabama NewsCenter will take a deeper dive into each pillar to check in on the project’s status.

First few Smart Neighborhood homes wrap up construction

Reynolds Landing is abuzz each day as construction continues to develop the new community, with the first few homes completed over the past few weeks. Fewer than one-third of the homes in the neighborhood remain available to buy, according to Dwight Sandlin, CEO of Signature Homes.

“The market response to Smart Neighborhood has been outstanding,” Sandlin said. “We have sold 48 homes since June, which is amazing because we have not yet completed our model home for customers to see a completed house.”

Progress on the neighborhood has been steady since construction on the first home began this summer.

“About 30 homes have broken ground so far, all in various stages of completion, so we are almost at the halfway point of construction,” said Shon Richey, marketing specialist for Alabama Power.

Enhanced energy-efficient building features are being used in each home of Smart Neighborhood, making the project a true living laboratory of how homes will be built in the future.

“We’ve taken a snapshot of what we anticipate standard building and energy codes for new home construction to be like in 20 years, and are using these to guide the construction,” Richey said. “This will give us great insight into how high-performance homes will function, and what improvements in building can be made now to improve efficiency.”

Richey and members of the Smart Neighborhood project team have been working with Signature Homes on energy-efficiency measures.

Blown-in insulation helps make Smart Neighborhood homes energy efficient. (David Macon / Alabama NewsCenter)

Features designed to reach greater efficiency in each home include:

    • Advanced air sealing.
    • 2×6 Zip walls with up to R-24 blown-in blanket insulation.
    • Radiant barrier roof decking to reduce hot attic temperatures.
    • R-49 blown attic insulation.
    • Triple-pane Low-E windows.

These features will work alongside systems such as a Carrier Infinity® Greenspeed Intelligence heat pump and Rheem hybrid electric water heater.

“All of this will come together to help homeowners stay more comfortable – and homes be more efficient – year-round,” Richey said. “Less heat will get into these homes in the summer, and less heat will escape in the winter.”

The scale of Smart Neighborhood makes it unique and will provide valuable insight and data into how energy-efficient homes and systems in the future will perform.

“We are seeing a few of these features being adopted in the home construction market, but none are using the number of features we are, and especially not in a 62-home neighborhood,” Richey said. “These building features are really the foundation of the neighborhood, and will be key in our research.”

Sandlin said the use of interfacing technology and energy-efficiency in Smart Neighborhood is expected to create new standards for the home building industry.

“The best part is that Reynolds Landing is a real community that Alabama Power can glean information from rather than a theoretical laboratory,” Sandlin said. “I commend Alabama Power for their commitment to learning what is good for their customers, and we are pleased to partner with them on this project.”

About Smart Neighborhood

Alabama Power announced the Smart Neighborhood project in April.

Construction on the neighborhood is expected to be completed in spring 2018.

The project is a collaborative partnership with Signature Homes, Southern Company, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and various technology and other vendors. Learn more at smartneighbor.com.

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