PARAMUS, N.J. — Unlike most people, the Parikh family of Paramus, N.J., couldn't wait for Winter Storm Jonas. It let them try out their one-of-a-kind geothermal/solar snow-melt system for the first time.
The snow might have climbed over 2 feet in some parts of Bergen and Passaic counties, but the heated driveway and walkway outside the Parikh house melted an inch and a half per hour.
When it was done, there was nothing left to shovel.
"What we are doing is using the environment to battle the environment," said Asit Parikh, who helped his father Raj develop what they call "Zenesis House."
From 2012 to 2015, Raj Parikh — an engineer and chairman of the engineering & architecture firm Metropolitan Building Consulting Group — rebuilt his Paramus home stud by stud to be eco-friendly and entirely self-sufficient, Asit said.
The home captures rainwater year round and then uses a solar thermal system to heat the water to 105 degrees, which is stored in multiple insulated tanks, explained Asit, who is a Passive House designer and NYC Real Estate broker.
The water then supplements two ground-source heat pumps developed by Raj to constantly supply 100-degree water to the driveway and walkways, which is distributed via a network of heating pipes underneath the concrete.
The melted snow from the driveway and walkway is recycled back into the system, re-heated, and then used for laundry, irrigation, and toilet water.
The home uses excess electricity produced by its solar photovoltaic system to pump the heated water through the snow melt system, Asit said.
Zenesis House is his family's response to climate change.
"We wanted to draw a line in the sand against climate change and not have a house that used gas or oil," he said.
Asit and Raj — who is also a research engineer with Cooper Union Laboratory for Energy Reclamation and Innovation — have plans to patent their system.
"Nobody is going to question our heating system when it melts away blizzards," Asit said. "We are creating a green building people want to live in."
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