Now the fridge reminds you when to shut off the lights

The homes in Calgary are getting smarter – pretty soon some of them will be able to talk to you. Genstar, along with JayMaster Builder, are constructing Calgary’s second e-community, Evergreen, which links residents to a common network.

The smart-house concept is not ground breaking new technology, but it does provide homeowners with options that even a decade ago seemed impossible. And, according to J.J. Macalino, project manager for Genstar in Calgary, the key is in the way the house is wired.

Traditionally, homes were wired in a daisy chain. Now, however, with the star configuration, all the wires come back to a central point, enabling appliances in one room to communicate to those in another. Literary speaking, your fridge and light switch can talk from one room to the next.

Macalino said the cabling has a 1,000MB maximum capability, and will ensure the consumer will not be tapped out or bottlenecked within the home.

Dave Bengert, corporate manager for JayMaster Builder in Calgary, said the subdivision would use IBM HomeDirector, which uses cabling and will give homeowners access to the Internet. “This provides an Internet community (and) it ties all the individual homeowners to a common Web site, ” he said.

The relationship between Genstar and JayMaster Builder is a long-standing one. Essentially, Genstar owns the land on which JayMaster is building the e-community, but it was Genstar which developed the smart house concept. Aside from the technological improvements taking place in homes, from a design standpoint, builders have realized the importance of adding separate dens for a computer station adjacent to the kitchen, Bengert added. By the end of the year, all of JayMaster’s homes will be built with the cabling connections, he said.

Ian Angus, president of Angus Telemanagement Group in Ajax, Ont., believes that adding high-speed access to residential home will increase saleability. “Any builder that wants to attract the high-tech consumer better do it, (and) it’s an important way of differentiating what they have to offer,” he said.

On the whole, Angus thinks builders who begin their developments by including the cabling will find it easier and cheaper, but he remains sceptical of the smart house concept. “I remain dubious on this because I don’t know if anyone really wants to communicate with their fridge.”

Macalino said the subdivision would consist of approximately 600 to 800 multi-family homes and 800 to 1000 single-family dwellings. Pricing for the smart house Internet and cabling ranges from less than $1,000 up to $2,000, depending on the size of the home, Macalino said.

For additional information visit the Evergreen Web site at or