The Future Farmstead – a net-zero, futuristic residence and public space – situated on the University of Georgia’s Tifton Campus, was developed by a diverse crew of environmental enthusiasts, ranging from students to professors to building industry professionals, and rounded out by a group of innovative companies like DuPont and Corian® Charging Surface products.
Ideating the ‘Farmhouse of the Future’
Conceptualized by the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Tifton Campus professor Craig Kvien, the 3,400-square-foot, energy-efficient house, dubbed the “Future Farmstead,” was developed with thorough consideration to the needs of the community and the environment. While assessing the processes, products and sustainability aspects of the home, Kvien always kept the goal of creating simplicity, ease-of-use, practicality and accessibility top-of-mind.
Kvien, who has been with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences for three-and-a-half decades, began the Future Farmstead project by first gathering information from the farmers within the Tifton community about what they would want in a space that would serve as a hybrid of both a farm and a home. Armed with the community’s feedback, the final plan for the Future Farmstead became a space that creates simplicity by marrying state-of-the-art engineering with environmentally-friendly sustainability.
The next step was to develop relationships with like-minded organizations and businesses that were excited to help the UGA team achieve their vision: a ‘farmhouse of the future.’ The project aimed to benefit and simplify the lives of those within the community, as well as the lives of the UGA graduate students who would ultimitely become residents of the home, responsible for its maintence both inside and out.
The residents’ responsibilities include:
- Giving tours and educating groups and visitors
- Making sure the public spaces are always clean and presentable
- Maintaining and recording the net-zero energy and water status of the house
- Caring fors the edible landscape
The notion for the edible landscape on the grounds of the Future Farmstead is a pioneering Discovery Garden powered by “energy play” (think: see-saws in play areas that provide the energy to pump the water for the irrigation system). The Discovery Garden will incorporate new, trailblazing edible foods with unique features that allow them to survive in new environments, like the frost-tolerate citrus trees, bred by UGA scientist Wayne Hanna.
Bringing the Future to the Present
The Future Farmstead serves as a platform to acquire scientific data and showcase how new, and future technology can be implemented to help us live and work more efficiently in our daily lives, while taking steps to protect the environment.
“Whenever we have an activity on campus it’s usually in the afternoon so the first thing students want to do is find their little bulldog [the charging spot is branded with the UGA mascot] on this countertop and plug their phones in.” - Brianna, UGA graduate student and tour guide
To ensure the home would successfully attract thousands of curious visitors, and also excite and entice a diverse group of graduate students to live and work in the home. Net-zero energy and water homes are only as good as the people who live there and maintain the space. The resources available to those caretakers are crucial for the home’s success. It was essential to find compatible, reputable partners to help to identify and engage these audiences.
“The DuPont Charging Surface products fit right into the whole theme of the Future Farmstead,” said Kvien, “because this was exactly what we were looking for: technology to make life simpler.”
Research-Driven Sustainability Simplifies Lives
DuPont has “cut the cord” with its Corian® Charging Surface, making it easy to power up devices without the need for wires and plugs cluttering the countertop. DuPont™ Corian® Charging Surface wirelessly charges smart devices using solar energy gathered by 36 solar panels on the roof of the Future Farmstead. It stops charging devices when the power level reaches 100%, which saves energy in comparison to other charging mediums that continually provide power to the connected device until it is unplugged.
The Future Farmstead was developed with the idea that it would be not only a residence and a public venue for tours and events; it is meant to be used as a gathering place for both graduate and undergraduate students. The house features interactive, cutting-edge products, and sleek and modern design features that are not just aesthetically pleasing, but also environmentally-friendly. “Whenever we have an activity on campus it’s usually in the afternoon so the first thing students want to do is find their little bulldog [the charging spot is branded with the UGA mascot] on this countertop and plug their phones in.” - Brianna, UGA graduate student and tour guide. The Corian® Charging Surface technology is hidden below the surface. It safely and wirelessly transfers energy to a receiver within or attached to a smart device.
The Corian® Charging Surface technology is hidden below the surface. It safely and wirelessly transfers energy to a receiver within or attached to a smart device. It’s simple and easy to use: a Powermat® wireless charging ring or charging case is connected to the smart device, then the device is placed on the charging spot, where it begins the charging process – free of tangled wires and restrictive cords. If the smart device is Qi enabled, it can be placed on the charging spot without an attached receiver.
Amanda Miller, UGA graduate student and researcher said, “Everything I do now is through electronics – I can take classes on my phone, I can take classes on my iPad, so my life now is pretty dependent – whether I want it to be or not – on these electronic devices.”
“[The Future Farmstead] is a huge selling point to our campus…you get to give [prospective students] a tour of this beautiful facility that promotes what UGA is all about: research-driven sustainability,” said Brianna, UGA graduate student, regularly guides tours and holds student activities at the Future Farmstead. “Whenever we have an activity on campus it’s usually in the afternoon so the first thing students want to do is find their little bulldog [the charging spot is branded with the UGA mascot] on this countertop and plug their phones in,” she added.
Beyond the Technology
The vision for the Future Farmstead is to serve as a futuristic, technology-driven space, but it was also essential to preserve the hybrid and simplicity themes. The home must be functional as a public space and also be easy to live in – aspects that go beyond the outward use of technology. The hybrid home is both environmentally-efficient, as well as people-efficient; it is a comfortable space that was built to be accessible to everyone and easy to maintain without heavy use of harsh chemicals.
The DuPont products in the Future Farmstead are all zero landfill status and provide multiple benefits to the residents, visitors, and the environment – all aspects that are very on-par with the themes of the materials used in the house. The building’s insulation is made out of recycled denim and closed cell foam, which doubles as a way to help provide structure to the house.
Recycled materials also comprise exterior features of the house, as the front deck is made out of recycled plastic bottles and wood pallets. On the grounds of the Future Farmstead, the edible landscape can be described the same way as the interior and materials within the house: innovative, heavily-researched, scientifically-engineered, and environmentally conscious.
Beyond the donation of Corian® Charging Surface products, DuPont provided additional Corian® and Zodiaq® for the zero-threshold showers, bathroom countertops, vanities and both breakfast area and kitchen counters. DuPont™ Corian® solid surface was designed for carefree maintenance, as well as being non-porous and durable. A simple wipe down with a damp cloth is sufficient for daily cleaning – resulting in less use of water and cleaning products as compared to other surfaces. The Zodiaq® quartz surface is a beautiful, heat resistant, durable, non-porous, stain resistant product that – like Corian® – is easy to clean and maintain.
Corian® and Zodiaq® are the result of a scientific quest to develop solid surface products that are visually stunning, easy to maintain, sustainable and long-lasting. They are specially engineered to be highly-customizable (100+ colors and patterns, brilliant lighting effects, intricate inlays and more), while easy to clean and durable enough to be used in both commercial and residential spaces: a perfect fit for the public/private hybrid that is the Future Farmstead.
“The house is advanced but we know that unless we [continually work to] keep it up to date, so this relationship with the companies we hope is ongoing,” said Kvien, “The nice part about the Future Farmstead is that when you get something right, it’s better on your pocketbook, it’s better on the environment, it makes life easier. It’s a case of just smart planning.”