A formal open house celebration at Mesa del Sol was an opportunity for the public to view a house designed for the latest solar decathlon competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The University of New Mexico and Arizona State University collaborated as one of 19 teams in the competition.

The SHADE (Solar Homes Adapting for Desert Equilibrium) house produces more electricity than it uses. UNM Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Olga Lavrova was the faculty advisor for the ASUNM SHADE team.

It is the end result of a two-year collaboration between the University of New Mexico and Arizona State University on an all solar-powered house.  The house was entered in a Department of Energy university competition to design and build a house that is energy efficient, has curb appeal, is affordable and comfortable to live in.

UNM students did the electrical and mechanical engineering design and the digital animations and the Virtual Energy World application.  The SHADE (Solar Homes Adapting for Desert Equilibrium) house consciously uses desert plant life as part of the design.  Special features of the home include:

* Screens on the walls for cooling shade and a still boundary layer of air
* Tanks, which store rainwater used to irrigate the landscape
* Rain screens which grow flowering vine and bougainvillea and provide a climate barrier
* Modular furniture which enables the flexible room space to be configured as a kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom or office
* Natural clay coating the interior walls to provide a humidity barrier

Larova says the solar canopy contains 36 high efficiency mono crystalline photovoltaic panels and a capillary radiant system in the ceiling which works with the phase change materials in the floors which passively charges at night while the ceiling mechanics shift the peak load.  A thermal battery in the mechanical room concentrates low temperatures at nights, then slowly thaws ice to cool the space during the day.  That is an adaptation of commercial scale ice storage systems.  A whole house system controls the energy systems and monitors the efficiency of the solar panels.

The house will be reassembled in Phoenix, Ariz. in March and will be exhibited as a part of PHX Renews, in the heart of Phoenix.