Duke's Smart Home Earns Platinum LEED Rating

The Home Depot Smart Home at Duke University, 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 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, according to a June 19 press release.

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

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 near 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.

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.

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.

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

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