College Students Compete to Create Best Solar-Powered Home

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Native desert plants surround the construction site of the SHADE house, which includes a hummingbird and butterfly garden. Photo: Carol Anna/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Native desert plants surround the construction site of the SHADE house, which includes a hummingbird and butterfly garden. Photo: Carol Anna/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

A Cool House for a Hot Climate

Taqi says her team has received many positive comments from the juries and public, who have given the Arizona State University/University of New Mexico home, called SHADE, a thumbs-up for several qualities that differentiate their home from the competitors.

SHADE, which stands for Solar Homes Adapting for Desert Equilibrium, is 850 square feet, or 1,800 square feet with the doors open to the patio. The solar canopy is detached from the house and serves dual purposes in harnessing the sun’s light and in shading the entire south façade. It also helps create a ventilation system to cool its potential inhabitants, who likely would hail from the ASU/UNM team’s target demographic: active retired couples.

After the competition, most of the houses will be hauled back to their teams’ campuses. SHADE’s eventual residence will be in downtown Phoenix within the Phoenix Indian School Historic District, a campus that includes several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. SHADE will be used to educate the public on living sustainably, covering topics such as water conservation, agriculture and urban gardening.

If you can’t make it to Irvine to tour the Solar Decathlon homes this year, you can get in on the action by voting in the People’s Choice Award through Oct. 11.

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