For years, homebuilders have grappled with how much and what types of technology to put into homes. With home-automation products continuing to evolve very rapidly, it can become difficult to determine what exactly to do with technology. But for many builders looking out to the horizon at concept homes can help determine what the future holds.

What will the connected home of the future look like? The next-generation home will be able to reduce emissions on an ongoing basis, and manage and generate consumption on its own.

Or at least this is what Honda Motor Co., www.honda.com, Minato, Tokyo, is testing in its new HSHS (Honda Smart Home System), which it unveiled last week. Honda has built two test homes in Saitama, Japan for single-family use, and plans to build a third in the same location. The homes will be linked for demonstration and testing, which will continue through 2018.

What makes these homes unique? The models run on a combination of gas, solar power, and a rechargeable battery. The Smart e Mix Manager obtains operation data from the various energy devices—a gas-engine cogeneration unit, a thin-film solar cell module, and a home battery unit—and analyzes household energy use. From there, the system can make decisions to optimize efficiency. Homeowners can also choose to remotely operate the data from an in-home display, a vehicle-navigation system, or a smartphone.

The combination of the development of solar cell panels and gas-engine cogeneration units even provide the means to keep energy for the home in case of a power outage.

The demonstration home also minimizes emissions based on data; optimizes the electricity supplied from the grid; and aims to reduce the load on public infrastructure by studying a “vehicle-to-home” system to plug-in hybrid cars and electric vehicles. In the end, the energy-management system provides a backup supply of electricity while reducing emissions from the home.

Honda’s home of the future additionally provides notifications when visitors arrive or if lights or air conditioning are left on; remote control of appliances; and the ability to run hot water for a bath or lock a door from outside a home.

Honda’s test home isn’t necessarily coming to market anytime soon, but the connected-home technology that it is creating to manage and monitor homes and energy consumption isn’t a far cry from the systems that are already available.

Today connected homes are within reach. Recent research shows more than 8% of households in the United States will own at least one smart-home product or service by the end of the year, and the market will continue to grow from $7.6 billion in 2012 to $24.3 billion in 2017, reports Strategy Analytics, www.strategyanalytics.com, Newton Centre, Mass.

For builders, the key takeaway is homes are only going to get ‘smarter’ and ‘greener’ due to the increased use of technology in the home. Looking at concepts of the future can help builders gauge what is coming next. Are you interested in learning more about how you can bring automation to homes you are building—or simply what this trend means going forward? Check out the Welcome Home panel at this year’s Connected World Conference, June 11-13.