Alfred E. Mann’s house is a digital oasis. The co-CEO of Advanced Bionics Corp. designed his five-acre Beverly Hills spread himself, deftly using water as a dramatic visual — and functional — centerpiece. The front security gates open and close using hydraulic pressure, which is more efficient and reliable than electricity. A 150-foot-long koi pond extends from the front entryway through small canals into the house and out to the backyard. When the wind whips up, a weather station on the roof sends a signal to a small dam, which automatically lifts the pond’s water level so that it is flush with the house. That seals off the opening where the channel flows inside, thus keeping the wind from blowing through.
Mann also figured out how to pump excess energy generated by his house’s evaporative air conditioners into a heat exchanger that warms his 140,000-gallon pool to a toasty 86F. “I can maintain the pool at that temperature without extra energy,” Mann says. If the pool reaches 90F, the house automatically switches on a series of waterfalls, which cool down the pool — and wow Mann’s party guests.