Inside the Wiring of an LEED Home

Green Life Smart Life project in Narragansett, R.I. reaches the rough-in phase for wiring and central vac as it tries to prove that a high-tech home can earn LEED Gold certification.

The 120-foot-long home has a centralized utility closet in the basement that reduces as much as 80 feet per wire run. There are 62 wire runs in all.
Jason Knott · March 20, 2009

Progress continues to be made on the Green Life Smart Life home in Narragansett, R.I.

The project, which is supported by the Consumer Electronics Association, is trying to prove that a home can be loaded with electronics and still be green, earning LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification.

The latest phase is the wiring, which can be used to earn LEED points. Actually, there are only a few differences in terms of the wiring for a LEED home vs. a traditional home, according to RS Audio Video Design in Carolina, R.I., the integrators on the Green Life Smart Life home.

According to project manager Jeffrey Mitchell, the home’s Leviton and Coleman Cable wiring bundles have been minimized to fit the exact cable requirements. In other words, he isn’t over-wiring the home.

The bundle includes three Cat 5 cables and one four-conductor wire run for speakers. For the whole-house controls, the company is pulling two power cables, even though the homeowners have not yet selected the whole-house control unit.

(They are still seeking a unit that seamlessly integrates with the six-zone geothermal HVAC system.)

In the basement, the company created a central utility room to home-run all the connections. The power supply is located at the north end of the 120-foot long home, so Mitchell estimates he is saving 80 feet for each of the 62 wire runs in the home by using a centralized utility closet.

(Even the 3-inch flexible conduit used for the wiring chases has to have low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) to earn LEED points.)

In all, Bob Saglio, president of RS Audio Video Design, estimates 460 hours of work on the job, with 90 hours of that devoted to rough-in.

Energy Monitoring, Smart Meters and Central Vac

For line voltage, the 400A service is connected to the Agilewaves system, which will monitor eight separate loads in the home, such as appliances, the geothermal HVAC and the entertainment system.

The local utility company is connecting one of the first smart meters in the state to the home. The homeowners have also opted to run a 220V service to the garage for a plug-in car.

The south side of the home is prepared for solar panels, but the homeowners have opted to wait, anticipating the cost of photovoltaics is going to drop.

In terms of LEED points, the home is garnering points in the Innovation in Design category for Energy Management, Energy Monitoring, Reduced Wiring Waste. The homeowners hope to earn another point for Energy Star/Low-wattage Entertainment.

Meanwhile, the central vacuum system is earning a point in the Indoor Air Quality category. Chris Slackford of H-P Products is installing a Vacuflo system with four inlet valves and a smaller retractable hose, and two Vroom units (for the kitchen and master bath). The smaller hose requires a larger power unit.

Homeowner Kim Lancaster believes that someday LEED points will equate to between 15 percent and 20 percent of the value of a home because of the offset in costs.

For example, the geothermal system cost $18,000 more than a traditional unit, but saves $4,200 per year in heating oil costs.

Other companies partnering in the home include NuVo, Omnimount, eSommelier, APC and Worthington Distribution.

The homeowners have a move-in date goal of September 1. We will keep you posted.

Robert Saglio of RS Audio Video Design, Chris Slackford of H-P Products, who is installing the central vac, and Jeff Mitchell of RS Audio Video Design in the doorway of the home.

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  About the Author

Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at

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