Durham’s Greenest House

I just returned from a visit to the greenest house in Durham today, the “Smart Home”. This was a tour Duke Smart Homegiven to my child’s class by the program’s director that I had the fortunate honor of helping to chaperone.  Many times I have past by this house built on Duke University’s campus, but this was my first opportunity to take tour of the inside and outside.   This place has every imaginable ‘green’ and ‘smart home’ device imaginable.  The building serves as a dorm for up to 10 college students and is a living experiment.  They even have a robotic lawn mover that cuts the grass (think Roomba vacuum) courtesy of John Deere Tractor available for just $3k! (but only in European markets) You may learn more about the Duke Smart Home Program at their website.


Some Quick Facts:

  • This is the first Platinum level LEED certified dorm building in the US.
  • They can store up to 2,400 gallons of rain water in the basement for use in flushing toilets and clothes washing machines.
  • Large water cisterns are used to collect water and to irrigate the gardens and lawn.
  • Lighting turns on or off based on motion sensing switches.
  • The original light bulbs when the building was built were CFL’s.  These have since been updated to even more energy efficient LED lights
  • It’s three stories includes 6,000 square feet of space.
  • Uses all Energy Star appliances including: washer, dryer, refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher.
  • The predominate flooring is made from cork, a renewable resource.  Carpet squares are used in some areas rather than traditional wall to wall carpeting.
  • Eighteen electricity generating Photo Voltaic panels provide electricity to the building.
  • Solar water heater uses the sun’s rays to heat water that fulfills the hotwater needs within the buildings.

If you have the chance to visit you will need to make an appointment.  If in the neighborhood you can at least peruse the exterior.  It is definitely a worthwhile experience to look into the future of how we may all be living.

Article written by Chuck Solomon a home improvement and small business consultant.

3 responses to “Durham’s Greenest House”

  1. Thanks for sharing although I’m a bit confused about the … solar water heater for heating the house or maybe what you mean is the solar panels have water, that gets circulated to heat the house?

    • Good point. To clarify, the house has PV (photo voltaic) panels that collect the sun’s rays and turn into electricity. It also has separate panels that use the sun’s rays to heat the water used in the house for bathing, dishwashing, clothes machine and other hotwater needs.

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