Research team developing model for sustainable desert living

Jul 19, 2013 by Lynne Oconnor

Team ASUNM, a collaborative effort between Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico, has come together to address the inefficiencies of urban sprawl and to create a model for sustainable desert living that has been dubbed SHADE, or Solar Home Adapting for Desert Equilibrium, an entry in the Solar Decathlon 2013 competition that takes place October 3–13, in Irvine, Calif.

ASU and UNM are located in of the American Southwest that experience extremely high temperatures while serving as a home to millions of residents, with more arriving every year. Phoenix and Albuquerque have become an urban sprawl of asphalt and resource-intensive homes. Occupants often come from areas that are more lush, bringing with them landscaping choices that incorporate non-indigenous plants and require copious amounts of water, which has contributed to drying river beds and depleted reservoirs.

Inspired by the saguaro cactus because of its adaptation to the desert and its ability to survive with minimal resources, Team ASUNM wanted to create a home that could adapt in size and function and adjust to extreme swings in diurnal and seasonal temperatures. The design of SHADE is focused on affordable photovoltaic solutions in partnership with engineers from Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies Research Center who are assisting with the monitoring and evaluation of how effective alternative systems can be in the extreme environment.

Using external vertical screens and a solar canopy for shade, the SHADE home experiences a stable, consistent temperature with the use of a radiant cooling system used alongside an air cooling unit. Team ASUNM is exploring the residential application of to chill water at night to create ice that cools a glycol solution during the day.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Plants used in landscaping SHADE are native to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts and includes a butterfly and hummingbird garden. Irrigation will incorporate a gravity-fed hose that draws water from a rainwater collection system.

A video tour of the SHADE home describes details of the design and construction, including the use of adaptive spaces, staggered studs, humidity buffering, hydronic micro capillary tube system for radiant cooling.

Explore further: In Vermont, a milestone in green-energy efforts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Harnessing diverse climate and weather conditions

Jun 18, 2013

To make a building sustainable, taking into account its climatic conditions is key. No better examples than the three showcase buildings under the EU funded DIRECTION project. They are based in Munich, Germany and Valladoli ...

Plants help lower temperatures

Feb 19, 2013

(—As Melbourne swelters through another heat wave, scientists are using thermal imaging to work out how plants can be used to reduce the severe temperatures in our cities.

Recommended for you

Toyota, Grenoble set stage for test in ride-sharing

21 hours ago

Toyota is testing ride-sharing. As simple as that may sound, the experiment indicates an innovative model for the future of urban transportation. The Grenoble metro area could turn out to be the trial stage ...

Sparks fly as Di Grassi wins first electric race

23 hours ago

A spectacular crash at the last corner that ended leader Nicolas Prost's race and sent ex-F1 driver Nick Heidfeld flying into the fencing gave Brazil's Lucas di Grassi victory in the first ever Formula E ...

First electric car race to zoom off on Saturday

Sep 12, 2014

Formula E will be a laboratory for new technology, according to motor sport great Alain Prost, while Bruno Senna said drivers will face a "lottery" when electric car racing kicks off in Beijing Saturday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 19, 2013
Just using existing cheap PV panels coupled to air conditioners would save a fortune over mains electricity prices