Being the first to try something isn’t always advantageous. There is risk involved, and that risk can have large implications: lost money, threatened safety, lost productivity, etc.

In the case of the reNEWable Living Home, the 2018 BUILDER Concept project led by Meritage Homes, the exploration of prototypes was critical to its success and its HERS 16 rating.

Here, Thaddeus Lynch, vice president of purchasing at Meritage Homes, explores the strategy behind finding and identifying the right prototypes to work with. He explains how each product has to be vetted, tested and then exploded to full scale.

Lynch points out that Meritage Homes has to consider many factors in order to adopt a new prototype. For instance, can the trade base be educated to execute the installation properly? Plus, Meritage has to think about how the product will contribute to energy ratings and certifications. And, maybe most important, the company has to balance consumer demand, gauging what exactly a home buyer will pay for versus how much value it has the potential to deliver.

For the reNEWable Living Home BUILDER concept project, Lynch and his team found several products that were successful and will now have the opportunity to roll into future Meritage Homes portfolio, such as the HercuWall panelized composite wall system that is explained here. The group also brought in hybrid water heaters, Sherwin-Williams Harmony Zero VOC Interior Acrylic Latex paint, Whirlpool scan to cook oven and induction technology, a platinum reflective roof tile from Eagle, device charging countertops from DuPont, and new finishes from Emser Tile, Timberlake Cabinetry, and Eldorado Stone.

Lynch points out another challenge of bringing in prototypes is local code. Some innovations work in some markets, but not in others. For instance, the graywater system that the team installed in Orlando was only able to be used to flush toilets, but it could be further leveraged in other markets where code allows the water to be used for irrigation purposes.

Be sure to visit the reNEWable Living Home in January in Orlando to see these innovative product prototypes firsthand.

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