Smart Home Recognized for Innovations

September 11, 2009

Once again, the Smart Home Program has received national attention for its contributions to making the world a greener place.

This time, it was the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), who announced this week that the Duke program is one of the recipients of its Excellence in Green Building Curriculum Recognition Awards for 2009.

Duke’s Smart Home Program was one of five award winners in the category covering colleges and universities. The award recognizes innovative green building curricula at all levels of education and provides financial support for promising new programs

“The Duke Smart Home Program continues to grow and attract students interested in smart technology and sustainable lifestyles,” said Jim Gaston, Duke Smart Home Program director. “It is exciting to see students connect with industry and the community to develop innovative solutions that utilize new technologies. This award for excellence by the USGBC confirms that Duke is at the forefront of the green movement.”

Now in its second year, the USGBC initiative is a central component of its commitment to identify and disseminate innovative green building curricula to educators across the country.

“Through this initiative, USGBC is recognizing those organizations that are taking the lead in the development of innovative green building knowledge and resources,” said Rebecca Flora, USGBC senior vice president for education & research. “The extraordinary rise in green building in recent years has accelerated the need for relevant and engaging educational programs, and all of our participating organizations are playing an active role in helping USGBC meet this important need.”

Recognition Awards honor existing green building education projects, activities or programs, and includes a $1,000 honorarium

The centerpiece of Duke’s program is the Home Depot Smart Home, which is a 10-person student residence hall for green living and learning. Completed in 2007, the home is the world's first LEED Platinum live-in laboratory. Students can participate in the program in a variety of ways: independent study for credit, house courses focused on sustainability topics, as senior capstone design projects, and as members of the Smart Home student club.

SmarthomePrimarily focused on undergraduates, the program encourages students from different academic disciplines to form teams and explore ways to use technology in the home. Smart Home Project students are encouraged to explore new technologies that aren't being addressed through commercially available technology.

The USGBC awards were judged on demonstrated success, ability to be replicated, the scope of influence, advancement of green principles within the educational community and the fostering of a collaborative or interdisciplinary approach. The USGBC is made up of 78 local affiliates, more than 20,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 131,000 LEED accredited professionals.

Buildings in the U.S. are responsible for 39 percent of CO2 emissions, 40 percent of energy consumption, 13 percent of water consumption and 15 percent of GDP per year, according to the USGBC, which means that greater building efficiency can meet 85 percent of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.