Gazeta Riad | KAUST meets the requirements for leadership in energy and environmental designs

The “Smart Home” project reaches the platinum degree of the global system (LEED)

KAUST meets the requirements for leadership in energy and environmental designs

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), as one of the leading research centers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, continues to push the boundaries of innovation and transfer them from ideas in laboratories to promising applications in the real world. Important tools that help the university achieve this ambitious vision is a KAUST Smart Technology lab and its efforts in creating the concepts of a “smart city” within the university campus and activating unique talents and experiences in the university community. researchers and innovators until KAUST became a vibrant laboratory that has international recognition in the field of smart cities.

In this context, the KAUST smart home project was recently awarded a platinum degree in the LEED system for Energy Leadership and Environmental Design, reaching second place in the global ranking with a score of 94.

significant achievement

This is an important achievement in itself, especially since this smart home has been developed from a regular existing home compared to the first place holder in the 95 rating, which was built from scratch with a small design but the KAUST smart home was larger and modified by the university and its construction partners, which is a living proof of KAUST’s ability to develop existing infrastructure to meet future sustainability goals. This is the second time the university has achieved the platinum degree in the LEED system classification for leadership in energy and environmental design in the world.

Shortly before the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, KAUST worked with UK-based innovation consultancy Treehouse to consult with the university community about its intention to build an intelligent on-campus home system. More than 100 community members were interviewed as part of an extensive and specific research process to develop future homes in partnership with the Saudi Construction Contracting Company “Bytor” and these efforts culminated in a successful “construction project”. intelligent homes. “

LEED recognition

Requirements to obtain LEED recognition depend on several key factors such as total energy consumption, construction methods, materials and items used. These requirements were met in the KAUST smart home where it was connected to a total of 120 evenly distributed solar panels, a set of hydro-solar panels that provide 7 to 10 liters of drinking water per day extracted from atmospheric moisture and a system leak disclosure for immediate reporting of Accidents to which occupants of the home are exposed.

The project is a collaboration between KAUST Smart, Facilities Management and Community Services in order to enrich people’s living experience and address sustainability challenges. It will serve as a building block for intelligent cities that prioritize sustainability, energy conservation and human well-being.

live laboratory

The benefit of the KAUST smart home project comes not only from being an innovative project that promotes the concepts of smart cities, but also as a vibrant laboratory to enable technologies developed at the university. In pursuit of this goal, home technology innovations from eight KAUST start-up businesses were combined with a focus on four main areas: solar energy, geothermal energy, intelligent technology and architecture.

“As a university of science and technology, KAUST has important research expertise represented by international faculty and researchers, whose collaboration projects and research partnerships have greatly benefited us in the implementation of eight emerging technologies that use our smart home project as a laboratory for its various systems. Says Matthew Early, Vice President of Facility Management at KAUST. “It makes our smart home a vibrant laboratory that will continue to evolve as technology advances.”


Three start-ups of KAUST provide the technologies needed to power the smart home solar panel network, which powers the home battery. Startup KAUST Iyris, which has now joined Red Sea Farms, is offering Onyx Solar technology, Mirai Solar is offering photovoltaic tents and folding solar panels, and startup Nomad is offering a cleaning solution for solar panels from dirt and dust without water.

A feature that can be noticed immediately when visiting a KAUST smart home is how quiet its rooms are compared to ordinary air-conditioned homes, due to the geothermal system used to cool the home. Where the construction team drilled eighteen wells around the house building, at a depth of 80 m underground. Air, air circulates to a depth of 2.5 m in 6 underground pipes distributed around the house with an approximate length of 40 m before to enter. clean air unit.


The launch of KAUST SaNoor has provided solutions for fiber optic cables and sensor modules throughout the home to power the in-house leak detection system. Of course, one of the essential aspects of a smart home is the set of these smart technologies that help make life easier for users, and this also includes motion sensors for lighting, intelligent access control, automated blinds and a drone landing system. by startup KAUST, Firnas Aero.

The architectural design of the smart home was a central issue that was discussed in the initial phase of consultation with the university community. Six directions were adopted for the strategic design of the house that included the need of users to connect with nature, to provide a customizable living space to adapt to the needs that change over time, as well as the effective management of resources.

The three KAUST startups also offered solutions to enhance the smart home impact on its immediate natural environment. SandX waterproof sand plays a vital role in preventing water evaporation from the roots of native plants in the home garden and the Darwin21 team introduced a bio-compound that was added to the vegetation to make it more resistant to dry conditions. Edamah Organic Solutions develops solutions for recycling organic waste for desert environments and reducing the amount of water used for irrigation.

Several new technologies are also being explored in the smart home, including testing the use of small drones to clean solar panel roofs installed on fragile structures around the home, such as balconies and small greenhouses. KAUST-based startup Ovira is using UV technology to reduce food waste spoilage and increase environmental awareness and sustainability.

Zero emission

The KAUST smart home is designed to reduce its carbon footprint by improving energy efficiency and integrating it with renewable energy. The house emits zero emissions during the day, which means that it produces the same amount of energy as it consumes. , but the challenge remains to achieve zero emissions at night, the smart home operates with a single battery, which currently can not meet all the electrical requirements of the home at night, but the goal is to develop new technologies, in partnership with researchers and startups and outside vendors, to achieve zero net emissions in the future.

Among the energy-saving features that help the smart home achieve zero emissions during the day is its equipment with home self-monitoring systems, such as sensors to detect the presence of people in the room and adjust lighting and temperature accordingly. , and carefully selected exterior insulation material of the house also helps prevent air leakage Cool and keep rooms cool Even sewage from showers and washing machines is recycled through a circulating water system that returns treated water for use in systems toilet and garden irrigation. This saves about 40% of water consumption compared to similar conventional homes.

The KAUST smart home project platinum ranking for the LEED system for leadership in energy and environmental design worldwide confirms its right to be a model for the region and beyond, and demonstrates KAUST’s collaborative thinking and future vision and commitment its great to build a more sustainable future in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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