Net Zero ADAPT Home Reduces the Need for Climate Control in the Chihuahua Desert

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One of twenty teams that have been chosen to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 competition, Team Texas is comprised of eighty students from multiple disciplines at University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and El Paso Community College.

Their submission is the $250,000 ADAPT home, a single family dwelling that takes on the unique challenges of the Far West Texas region where a high temperatures, low humidity, an average rainfall of eight inches a year, and strong winds can create a harsh and dusty environment in the Chihuahua desert that features mountain plateaus, high deserts, chaparrals, and verdant farmland. Taking cues from desert flora and fauna, ADAPT is an acronym for Accommodate, Design, Adjust, Provide, and Transform.

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ADAPT is a net-zero sustainable home that utilizes local materials to represent the multiple cultures of the region with a clean and sophisticated design and demonstrate how environmental efficiency can be beautiful and comfortable. With readily available sunlight over three hundred days a year facilitating the use of solar power, along with mild winters and cool summer evenings, residents of the El Paso region customarily enjoy the outdoors and its tranquil landscape.

Team Texas has been working on the project since February 2012 and broke ground on ADAPT earlier this year. Assembled on the UTEP campus, it will be broken down and reassembled in Irvine, California for the judging that takes place on October 3-13, 2013.

“There aren’t too many obstacles in building a solar-powered house other than making sure all the equipment is compatible with your system, since nowadays all the equipment is readily available on today’s markets,” said Diego Kerstiens, a junior electrical engineering major who is ADAPT’s lead electrical engineer. “The biggest obstacle we face as a team is making sure that the house stays transportable with all these different systems being integrated at the same time.”

An animated walk-through video of the ADAPT home demonstrates how the home’s design takes advantages of cross breezes to reduce the amount of time that artificial climate control is necessary. The home features native plants, a grey water system, natural sunlighting methods that reduce glare and heat gain, triple-pane low-energy glass, integrated fabric shades, dimmable LED lighting, a highly efficient shower, and a wall-hung water closet.

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