Smart Home LEED

Smart Home New LEEDer

The Home Depot Smart Home, a 10-person student residence hall for green living and learning, has achieved a top-level platinum standard for its design from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system. The building becomes the first in North Carolina to achieve that standard.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The 6,000-square foot-residence, designed by students and advisers, earned 59 out of a possible 62 points in the green building rating system, making it "the first platinum-rated residence hall on the planet," said Smart Home program director Tom Rose.

"Everyone involved can now hold Smart Home up as an example of amazing achievement in green building," Rose said.

From its roof of plants and solar cells to the rainwater cisterns and sophisticated electronics in the basement, the Smart Home was designed to be adaptable, environmentally sustainable and technologically integrated. In addition to being built with recycled and sustainable materials, Smart Home boasts a fiber-optic network with the fastest Internet access on the campus, about 40 gigabytes per second.

Workshops adjacent to the living areas of the five-bedroom, three-bath home enable further tinkering and deployment of new technology. Wall panels in every room open easily to enable students to add features.

"We are very happy that we were able to accomplish this, not only for what it does but for what it says about Duke's commitment to green buildings and preparing our students to be responsible citizens," said Duke's executive vice president, Tallman Trask III.

The $2 million residence hall and research laboratory is the centerpiece of a larger program in which more than 100 students are conducting research on smart living. Primarily focused on undergraduates, the program encourages students from different academic disciplines to form teams and explore ways to use technology in the home.

The emphasis on 'smart' means finding the best answer for a particular problem -- not just finding the high-tech solution or the latest gadget on the market. Smart Home Project students are encouraged to explore new technologies that aren't being addressed through commercially available technology.

Since 2003, Duke has designed all of its new buildings and building renovations to meet LEED standards, and now has 20 certified buildings, including one gold and seven silver. Smart Home is the first platinum LEED building at Duke.

The Home Depot retail chain has been the major sponsor of the Smart Home.

"This is a great example of a massive team effort combining to produce results greater than the sum of its parts," Rose said. "All players on the team not only worked together, but put forth superior effort to secure this coveted award that is so hard to match."