Top Questions from D.C.

In the spirit of education, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 questions we receive during public tours.  If we added some new signs, we could probably reduce the amount we have to talk by about 90% or just send the 21 year old team members bar-hopping for the day.

In the spirit of being tired after a few long weeks of work, we’ve also added the responses we’d like to give to mix things up a bit…

1.  What is the wood the cabinets are made out of?
Real Answer:  It’s actually manufactured from reclaimed sorghum straw and low VOC, no formaldehyde adhesive.  It extends our design concept (expanding horizons) because of the long straight lines in the grain, and is a green material from the Midwest as well.
After a Long Day:  “It’s actually pure magic.”  We’d offer a longer, more creative explanation, but we’d be hoarse since we get this one from almost everybody.

2.  What are those things on the walls?
Real Answer:  Those are custom made lighting fixtures that we installed efficient LED lighting in.  They’re made entirely from recycled steel and glass as well.
After a Long Day:  “Take a stab at it…they are plugged in to the wall and giving off a warm, yellowish glow that happens to light up the area…”

3.  How do you water the plants?
Real Answer:  Our custom automation system (Chameleon) has soil moisture content sensors that it reads.  If the soil is to dry, a soaker hose running underneath the plants will turn on and water them until the desired content is reached.
After a Long Day:  This one depends.  If you just got the 10 minute pitch on the automation system, we’re likely to ignore you since we already talked about it.  If you skipped the pitch on automation, we’re likely to ignore you because you’d know the answer if you had listened.  Guess it doesn’t really depend.

4.  Are these cement countertops?
Real Answer:  We chose concrete countertops due to their durability and because it’s recyclable.  It also helps us to keep the price down as it’s cheaper than other common counter materials such as granite.
After a Long Day:  That would be awfully tough since cement is just a binding agent.  If you mix it with aggregate and water, you get the wonder material that we used.

5.  What are the fins on the sides of the house?
Real Answer:  They’re called louvers, and are rather popular in other countries and on some larger commercial buildings here.  Because of the changing angle of the sun through seasons, they block direct sunlight during the summer and allow most to pass during the winter.
After a Long Day:  We have to drive our house down the highway to D.C.  These are for aerodynamics to make it easier on the truck.

6.  Does the drain work?
Real Answer:  Yes.  The shower area is sloped down to it to make sure we don’t have standing water.  As it runs the length of the bathroom, it can handle the flow from the shower, and it’s slightly dammed as well to keep water from spilling over.  We chose this type of drain due to the universal design aspect of the home…anybody can get into the shower.
After a Long Day:  No.  The company decided to mass market a product that doesn’t work and we thought we’d support them because we respected the brash attempt.

7.  Why is there a screen behind the mirror?
Real Answer:  It is actually an energy saving measure.  By getting headlines, weather, sports scores, stocks (et al) through a very low power draw device, you’re minimizing the usage of traditional, high power draw devices such as a TVs or computers.  Plus, it’s awesome.
After a Long Day:  Toilet + Shower + TV means all you need is a beer cooler and you’ll never have to leave the bathroom.  We’re only one step away…

8.  What are the tubes on the roof?
Real Answer:  We generate our electricity through the flat PV panels on the roof.  The tubes allow us to heat water without using our electricity, which is far more efficient.  There is a copper tube that goes into the manifold at the top, which in turn heats a closed loop of a hydroglycolic mixture.  That in turn radiates up and heats the domestic hot water for the home, and the water used for our hydronic radiant floor system.
After a Long Day;  They’re huge Pixie Sticks.  Go try to eat one.

Okay, so it’s not quite the top 10 list I promised, but it’s been a long day ;-).

In all seriousness though, we actually like answering questions.  We’ve worked on the project for the past two years to raise public awareness and because we love the idea behind it.  Keep asking questions, and we promise to give you the real answer (though you may have to sit through the others first).