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 it from laboratory ideas to promising applications in the real world. Among the important tools that help the university achieve this ambitious vision are; KAUST Smart Technology Lab (KAUST Smart) 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 of researchers and innovators until KAUST became a living laboratory with recognition international. in the field of intelligent 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. This is an important achievement in itself, especially since This smart home has been developed from an ordinary existing home. Compared to the first place holder in the rating with a score of 95 built from scratch with a compact design. But the KAUST smart home was much larger and was refurbished by the university and its construction partners, a living testament to 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.
In particular, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, KAUST worked with the UK-based innovative consulting firm Treehouse to consult with the university community about its intention to build an intelligent on-campus home system. More than 100 members of the community 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 “.
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 at 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 leak. detection system for immediate reporting of Accidents to which the occupants of the house 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.
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 8 KAUST start-ups have been integrated focusing on 4 main areas: solar energy, geothermal energy, intelligent technology and architecture.
Matthew Early, Vice President of Facility Management at KAUST, said: “As a University of Science and Technology, KAUST has significant research expertise represented by international faculty and researchers, from whose collaborative projects and research partnerships we have benefited greatly in implementation. of 8 evolving technologies. that use our smart home project as a lab for its various systems. “It makes our smart home a vibrant laboratory that will continue to evolve as technology advances.”
3 KAUST start-ups provide technology to support the smart home network of solar panels, which power 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 it is inside its rooms compared to ordinary air-conditioned homes. This is due to the geothermal system used to cool the house. The construction team dug 18 wells around the house building, 80 meters underground. A closed network of underground pipes pushes water from the house down to the ground, where it absorbs excess heat and then returns the cooled water to the HVAC system. Air circulates at a depth of 2.5 m in 6 underground pipes distributed around the house with an approximate length of 40 m before entering the fresh air unit.
The launch of KAUST SaNoor provided fiber optic cable solutions and sensor modules throughout the home to power the home leak detection system. Of course, one of the essential aspects of a smart home is the collection of these smart technologies that help make life easier for users. This also includes motion sensors for lighting, intelligent access control, automated blinds and a drone landing system from KAUST startup, 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 for strategic home design were adopted, which included the need for users to connect with nature, to provide a customizable living space to adapt to changing needs over time, and to manage effective resources.
3 KAUST startups also offered solutions to enhance the smart home impact on its immediate natural environment. The waterproof sand developed by SandX plays a vital role in preventing water evaporation from the roots of native plants in the home garden. 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 the surfaces of solar panels installed in 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.
The KAUST smart home is designed to reduce its carbon footprint by improving energy efficiency and integrating it with renewable energy. The house has zero emissions during the day, which means it produces the same amount of energy it uses. Sayed Al-Badr, Director of Construction Project Management at KAUST, says: “We aim for the KAUST smart home to reach zero emissions. We are currently achieving this during the day, thanks to sunlight and innovative technologies integrated into the home, but the challenge remains to achieve zero emissions at night. A smart home operates on a single battery, which currently can not meet all the electrical requirements of the home overnight. “But the goal is to develop new technologies, in partnership with researchers, start-ups and outside vendors, to achieve zero global 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. . Carefully selected exterior insulation of the house also helps prevent cold air from escaping and keep the rooms cool. Even sewage from showers used for washing is recycled through a circulating water system that returns treated water for use in toilet and garden irrigation systems. This saves about 40% of water consumption compared to similar conventional homes.
KAUST’s platinum ranking for the LEED Smart Home Project for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design in the world confirms its right to be a model for the region and beyond, and demonstrates KAUST’s collaborative thinking and future vision and his great commitment to building a more sustainable future in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
It is worth noting that the full details of the smart home project were presented in an extensive report aired by MBC last month.