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Just up the road from where it first served homeowners more than 60 years ago, Lowe's is partnering with Appalachian State University to help make homes more sustainable for generations to come.

The 17,000-student school in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina is one of 20 institutions chosen from around the world to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon this fall. The biennial event challenges teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, energy-efficient and attractive.

Lowe's is helping Appalachian State students meet that challenge. Together with Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation, Lowe's has contributed $350,000 to support the university's entry in the international competition. Along with approximately $25,000 worth of tools donated by Lowe's, the funds are being used to help construct the team's Solar Homestead. Lowe's employee experts also are providing advice, product recommendations and additional resources.

Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock said the university's participation in the competition would not be possible without the private support of companies like Lowe's.

"This project showcases higher education and community support at its absolute best," Peacock said. "Lowe's generous contribution demonstrates the company's commitment to enhancing educational opportunities and providing environmental leadership. Through this partnership, Lowe's is inspiring tomorrow's leaders to create innovative solutions for sustainable living."

More than 100 students from across the university will have a hand in building the 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom house with detached guest quarters. The design was inspired by the earliest pioneer homesteads — self-sustaining cabins and outbuildings used by settlers in the Appalachian Mountains. The Solar Homestead's outbuilding modules will function as solar collection sites, generating a flow of solar photovoltaic electricity.

Lowe's is dedicated to helping today's homeowners and future generations make their homes more energy and water efficient and more sustainable. Through support of Appalachian State's team, Lowe's is building on its commitment to bring more innovative technology to the marketplace and continuing to educate consumers about the benefits of an efficient home.

David Lee, a graduate student and communications manager for the Solar Homestead team, said Lowe's support has been invaluable. His team has partnered with members of Lowe's commercial sales, environmental marketing and sustainability teams to plan and develop the Solar Homestead.

"We have some people on the team with a fair amount of real-world experience, but no one has ever worked on a project of this scale and importance," Lee said. "So having all the advice from people who are experts in the field, such as Lowe's, has been very helpful. They've sent us specifications for WaterSense® fixtures and ENERGY STAR® appliances and helped us pick out the most affordable and environmentally friendly products. Lowe's has been fantastic."

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