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PARAMUS, N.J. — All it takes is a flip of a switch to clear the snow from one Paramus family's walkways and driveway.
The Parikh Family — comprised mainly of engineers and architects — uses a solar thermal system that heats captured rainwater flushed from tanks through pipes beneath the driveway and walkways.
But that's not all the eco-friendly and self-sufficient Zenesis House can do.
When McMansions were sprouting up in the neighborhood, the Parikhs set out to prove that they could upgrade their home for generations to come without sacrificing anything — including the environment.
In fact, they use the environment itself to tame the environment.
It was a radical move, indeed, one that honored borough firefighter and neighbor William Eberle. He built every GI-Bill house on the block—including the one the Parikhs bought in 1980, as well as his own.
The Parikhs soon began to understand that there wasn't enough local wood to support the McMansions replacing Eberle's simpler structures.
And so began the Zensis House .
Most of the family pitched in to build the house, which encompasses eight guiding principals:
- Resurrect ancient methods of capturing energy and water, temperature control and building durability. The house sits on a thermally broken foundation for temperature control and more ;
- Position and orient for minimal energy usage and occupants' well-being using principals of Feng Shui and Vasta Shastra;
- Enjoy free energy: the Parikh's heat and cool their house using the stored rain water, heated and cooled in tanks around the house without burning any fossil fuels. Water sits in two 1,000-gallon cisterns built into an insulated vault adjacent to an insulated cellar wall, which are filtered and used for all purposes;
- Design it like you own it: Visionary and homeowner Raj Parikh purposely made his control room feet away from his bedroom. His house is a project he will continue to work on;
- Biophelia: The family is building an aquaponic garden tower up the staircase, starting with a fish tank at the bottom that will feed plants at the top;
- Live large;
- Be a good neighbor; don’t burden the stormwater system during storms, purify ambient air, and release no CO2 into the atmosphere.
- Save money, both in construction and ownership.
In 2005, before the Zenesis House was built, the Parikhs lost nearly everything when thieves broke into the home and filled the family's suitcases with jewelry, money and other valuables while they were on vacation.
With the family’s newly rebuilt home of reinforced concrete and steel, they put cameras at every corner of the new home and installed three panes of ballistics-grade glass at all windows and doors.
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