Duke University has claimed the first LEED-platinum-rated residence hall on the planet. This achievement signals the beginning of a welcome and inevitable greening of university campuses nation-wide. To remain attractive and relevant, higher education institutions must ride the wave of positive public sentiment toward sustainable living and renewable energy.
Since its opening in November 2007, the Duke Smart Home has provided a “living laboratory” for students in engineering and science while proving it is possible to live green on college campuses. This summer, the dorm became Duke’s first platinum LEED building, receiving 59 out of 62 available points in the LEED rating system.
As Lynne Shallcross of ASEE Prism magazine reports in “A Living Laboratory”, the Duke Smart Home is a 6000 square foot, 10-resident dormitory sponsored by Home Depot. It also serves as a research laboratory and outreach center utilized by over 200 Duke students.
In addition to its leadership in promoting green living, the Duke Smart Home appeals to me for its ability to attract undergraduates into hands-on engineering experiences early in their academic careers.
ASEE Prism quotes Tom Rose, director of the Smart Home, as saying “The whole idea behind the program is to take something that would normally be done by contractors and professional engineers and turn that over to students and let them take a test drive in the real world.”
Mr. Rose also maintains a blog, The Tom Show, which covers the Smart Home (among other things). For more information, visit the Duke Smart Home Web site, http://www.smarthome.duke.edu/ , which contains details about ongoing projects, student residents, and program accolades.