2023 Ideas to Steal: Tech & Sustainability

Smart technology and earth-friendly living solutions are becoming home design mainstays

From the Ground Up

Photo by Landmark

Building a smart, sustainable home starts with the foundation. This strikingly blue Edina abode by Sustainable Nine Design + Build, JALIN Design, and Studio Grey Designs incorporates materials, appliances, and techniques that allow the before-its-time home to “live” in the future. Smart and eco-conscious elements include 14 kW solar panels, advanced insulation techniques, Energy Star-rated appliances, LED lighting, a live rooftop garden for added insulation, low- and zero-VOC paints, triple-pane windows with layers of low-emissivity coatings, PEX piping, and more.

Deep Winter Greenhouses

Photo courtesy of Conservatory Craftsmen

In the Midwest, cold weather is an obstacle for gardeners and farmers alike. Deep winter greenhouses (DWG), though, use groundbreaking technologies that allow encourage and allow for year-round cultivation. These in-unit glass structures are an alternative for home growing, and thermal technologies take advantage of heat from the sun and storage capacity from the earth simultaneously to create a largely self-sustaining environment—even in the depths of winter. Conservatory Craftsmen’s sales and marketing expert Evan Cohoe and Owner Jim Hewitt know it best.

“We have designed DWGs that [are] attractive and look good in any setting, but it’s also the ‘grow your own’ cultural movement [that’s] really pushing toward ideas like this,” explains Cohoe. “If you’re a homeowner and you’re looking into a DWG, you have the option of installing an automation system that will oversee your environment and your plants. Technology is changing things a lot. … It’s a new thing to most of us that wasn’t attainable maybe 10, 20 years ago.”

Reuse & Refurbish

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock/Nuwat

Amy Leferink, founder and principal designer at Interior Impressions

Photo by Jill Hamilton

The ways we live and design impact the environment. In fact, Amy Leferink, founder and principal designer at Interior Impressions, says her clients are becoming more educated about manufacturing processes and materials that are used in construction—wanting to transition away from big-box manufactured furnishings that contain plastics, polymers, foam, and high levels of VOCs. “Instead, [they are] incorporating quality-made furnishings, handcrafted goods, and refurbished and vintage pieces into their homes,” she says. “If we are able to reupholster Grandma’s heirloom settee and keep it from a landfill, we jump at the opportunity. Not only is it good for the environment, but it also adds character and sentimentality to a home.”

Trend Alert: Invisible Speakers

Photo courtesy of Lelch Audio Video

“We’re seeing our customers wanting an elevated experience regarding the technology in their homes,” says Alex Lelchuk, president of Lelch Audio Video in St. Louis Park. “It not only needs to work (and work well), but it also has to look and feel nice while fitting functionally in the space. A perfect example of this can be found when [installing] invisible speakers in a project. They provide a great audio experience, create a fun and cool space, and fit into any design aesthetic as they are quite literally invisible behind the wall or ceiling.”

Here Comes the Sun

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock/Slavun

Choosing solar energy solutions is no longer a fad—it’s a big investment with an ever bigger pay out. Homeowners across the country are cashing in on solar panels to not only help the environment but also take advantage of tax credits. In fact, residential solar power installations rose by 34% between 2020 and 2021 according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the numbers only keep climbing with 40-plus installers, like All Energy Solar, across the state. Even better? Prices have dropped more than 50% over the last decade.

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