At first glance, Dennis and Carole Mick's house in Austin, Texas, is no different to tens of thousands of other U.S. homes. But their neighborhood, built on the site of Austin's former airport, could well be one of the most innovative – and sustainable – on the planet.
Their home is part of the Pecan Street "smart grid experiment", an initiative that could transform the way we think about how we live and consume energy.
The website for Pecan Street states that the project uses smart grid technology to offer homes, commercial properties and schools, "energy data in real-time."
Subsidies encourage residents like Carole and Dennis to purchase solar panels and electric cars in return for providing the University of Texas at Austin - and other institutions around the world - with real time data about their energy consumption.
"With the help of Pecan Street, we were able to purchase 6.2 kilowatts worth of solar panels," Dennis Mick told CNBC's Sustainable Energy. "They are producing energy on an ongoing basis: anytime the sun is out, we're making electricity," he added.
Brewster McCracken is the President and CEO of Pecan Street. "We've taken a consumer grade data measurement tool for solar panels, and are using it to operate the world's largest research database on customer energy use," he said.