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Urban Living Laboratory Will Test Tomorrow’s Energy-Saving Devices

Major companies are pushing ahead with energy and water-saving innovations, and they need real-world testing grounds. The solution: the Urban Living Laboratory, a planned “research and urban lifestyle community” outside of Dallas, Texas.

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The ultimate green tech enthusiast’s dream–electric cars pulling into garages below homes filled with smart grid-connected appliances and topped with solar panels–has yet to come to fruition for most people. But major companies are pushing ahead with energy and water-saving innovations, and they need real-world testing grounds. The solution: the Urban Living Laboratory, a planned “research and urban lifestyle community” outside of Dallas, Texas.

Developed by Realty Appreciation and Johnson Controls, the $127 million, 73-acre technology incubator will be used by companies including GE, Philips Electronics, LG Electronics, and Kimberly-Clark to test next-generation toilets, light bulbs, appliances, and more. According to Reuters, the lab will monitor performance of every product in the lab with sensors. Participating vendors wil be required to update products every few years to keep all technology in the community up-to-date.

The Urban Living Laboratory won’t just be used by companies to evaluate product performance. “Through science-based research and education, this project will build a
sustainability road map and a comprehensive knowledge base for real
estate developers, investors, bankers, appraisers, city planners,
manufacturers of ‘green’ projects, government agencies and the general
public,” explained Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor of agriculture and life sciences for The Texas A&M University System, in a statement. “This will advance the science of building more
sustainable urban environments, which can be replicated throughout the
world.”

No word on how much residents will have to pay to live in the
Urban Living Laboratory, but planners envision a community containing
luxury apartments, student housing, luxury hotels, office buildings,
boutiques, a farmer’s market, restaurants, parks, and more.

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Construction will begin in late 2011, starting with 300
apartment units. Eventually, the community will contain  600
apartments, 200 student housing units, 120,000 square feet of office
space, two hotels with 250
rooms each,  and over 100,000 square feet of retail space.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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