The Home Depot Smart Home at Duke is a Showcase of Green Design

November 12, 2007

The Home Depot Smart Home at Duke University is a showcase of green design and a living laboratory. Designed by Duke students through a strategic partnership with The Home Depot, the 6,000-square-foot home features a variety of eco-friendly and high-tech elements and will house 10 students.

The public can tour the Smart Home Nov. 12 and 13 to glean ideas and inspiration for green living. Open house tours are being offered from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Smart Home on Faber Street, off Swift Avenue.

On Nov. 16 and 17 The Home Depot will present an exhibit at Duke University of products focusing on energy efficiency and the other innovations from The Home Depot Smart Home, to give the public insight on what they might adapt for their homes. Tours will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

At the start of the new academic term in January, 10 Duke students from the Pratt School of Engineering and Trinity College will move into the mini dorm and laboratory.

Duke students and their advisers designed The Home Depot Smart Home to be adaptable, innovative, environmentally sustainable and technologically integrated. The design should achieve at least Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

Some of the home's features include:

    • A green roof comprised of living plants that will insulate the home from the cold of winter and the heat of summer. The roof's soil also pre-filters water that passes through it, removing pollutants picked up from the atmosphere.
    • Two solar power systems, including a solar thermal unit on the roof that helps heat water for showers and dishwashing, and photovoltaic panels in the front of the house which transform sunlight into electricity that powers lights in the dorm.
    • Two rainwater collection systems to irrigate the property and provide water for toilets and the clothes washing machine.
    • Lumber that was harvested from sustainable forests, and trim that includes Southern yellow pine from the Duke Forest.
    • DensArmor Plus® drywall, a new generation of paperless drywall designed with a moisture-resistant core to resist mold.
    • Fiber optic wiring throughout the home that provides the dorm with the capability for spectacular internet speeds up to 40 Gigabits per second.

In developing the dormitory, which will continue to evolve, Duke Smart Home Program students are encouraged to explore new technologies that aren't addressed through commercially available technology. Design workshops adjacent to the living areas of the home provide the ability to modify and deploy new technology, and adjustable wall panels open to accommodate changes.

"The coolest and most exciting things will be the collaborative projects that can be added into a building that is designed to be taken apart, fitted with new projects, and monitored," said resident Tim Gu, a junior from Greendale, Wis. "As a resident, I will get to play, test and tinker with these projects and work with the project teams to improve their designs."

Once they move in, the 10 residents will automatically become ambassadors of sustainable lifestyles, conducting tours and answering questions about energy-efficient, environmentally responsible living in a stylish, high-technology setting.

The residence hall and research laboratory is the centerpiece of a much 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 smart ways to use technology in the home.

"Nothing could make this program more successful than for it to continue to grow beyond engineering and become a Duke-wide endeavor," said Robert Clark, dean of the Pratt School of Engineering. "We are going to create a broad range of projects in the dorm –— from sociology majors studying group dynamics and technology adoption, to economics majors evaluating the costs and benefits of new technology, to environmental science students working on the dorm and the surrounding landscape."

The Home Depot’s sponsorship is valued at an estimated $2 million in cash and in-kind donations over a three-year period to help cover the cost of the dorm construction.

"Part of what makes this program so exciting to students is the opportunity to connect with industry," said Russell Holloway, associate dean for industry and corporate relations. "Since the project started in 2003, students have aggressively recruited companies into creative partnerships. The response from these companies has been overwhelmingly positive. They love our students’ initiative. These relationships have led to research collaborations, donations to the dorm and internships and jobs for Duke students."

"The Home Depot is proud to be the naming sponsor of the Smart Home and strategic partner with Duke University on the development of key smart home technologies," said Bill Hamilton, merchandising vice president for electrical and smart home at The Home Depot. "Technologies that make our homes more intelligent and environmentally friendly will play a larger role in the life of every consumer in the coming years. As a test bed to develop and experiment with new product concepts, The Home Depot Smart Home will be at the forefront of the shift in how we live our everyday lives."

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About The Home Depot
The Home Depot® is the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer, with 2,226 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, 10 Canadian provinces, Mexico and China. In fiscal 2006, The Home Depot had sales from continuing operations of $79.0 billion and earnings from continuing operations of $5.3 billion. The Company employs approximately 350,000 associates. The Home Depot's stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: HD) and is included in the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index.