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Conventional Las Vegas Home vs. DesertSol

DesertSol is designed to harness the Mojave Desert's most abundant resources while conserving its scarcest - creating a sustainable and self-reliant home that embodies the soul of the Mojave. DesertSol varies considerably from the typical Las Vegas home, which due to development/building principles, is unnecessarily inefficient and "cookie-cutter".


Motivation

Build the House Quickly as Possible

Homes are built as quickly and cheaply as possible. In the interest of time, sustainable design-and-build practices often are ignored.

Build An Appealing House That Uses Energy Responsibly

Designed and built from the ground up to be an ultra-efficient home, DesertSol reduces its overall consumption by using resources more efficiently than a conventional home.
Foundation

Concrete Slab On Grade

Las Vegas is built on a layer of tough sedimentary rock known as caliche. Caliche is hard and difficult enough to excavate, making basements in Las Vegas a rarity. Most foundations in the region are simple concrete slabs on grade.

Mobile Steel Chasis

DesertSol's structural team designed the foundation for mobility by creating a pair of steel chassis with removable axles and hitches with which to build the home on. Steel I-beams and C-purlins create a rigid foundation for the home and eliminate the need for floor beams.
Framing

Traditional Framing Techniques

Wood, sheathing, and insulation is thrown together with little regard for creating an air-tight thermal envelope.

Advanced Framing Techniques

DesertSol uses an advanced framing technique which results in an estimated 20% savings of material. The framing features 2x6's positioned 24" O.C. (off center) from each other. That allows for more room for insulation compared to conventional methods.
Plumbing

Conventional Plumbing and Rigid Piping

Fire suppression systems are rare in residential homes. For their piping systems, most homes use expensive copper piping, or outdated plastic alternatives. Rigid pipes are cumbersome to lay and require fittings to change direction.

Flexible Piping and a Unique Pump to Maintain System Pressure

A relatively new flexible pipe manufactured by Uponor runs throughout DesertSol. This pipe is extremely easy to manipulate and insulates heat much better than copper piping. This system also services a fire suppression system in the ceiling as well as all the home's faucets, shower heads, and nozzles.
Electrical

Consumers Pull Electricity From the Grid and Use Old Analog Meters

Most homes in the country, and Las Vegas is no exception, are powered by the local power company's grid. 80 year-old technology is used to meter and monitor these homes' consumption of electricity.

Grid-Tied System That Can Both Consume and Produce Electricity

With a PV system on the roof, DesertSol uses a grid-tied microinverter to send excess power back to the grid. It can also pull electricity from the grid when the PV panels don't produce enough electricity to power the home.
Exterior

Stucco Everywhere

The modern stucco found in Las Vegas is an imitation Tuscan style, and is by far the most popular exterior feature in Las Vegas. It is an inexpensive and proven technology that has a 100+ year record of success in the brutal desert climate, but suffers tremendously from a lack of visual appeal.

Reclaimed Pre-Weathered Materials Give Desertsol a Timeless Look

The beautiful reclaimed silverwood that is used on DesertSol has been pre-weathered and aged. This ensures that the home's exterior will not deteriorate while creating a unique aesthetic reminescent of the old mining towns of the Mojave Desert
Glazing

Windows That Inneffectively Block the Sun\'s Warming Radiation

The Las Vegas sun is extremely harsh in the summer. For this reason, many houses have few exterior windows that are often not effectively glazed. Windows are usually not properly shaded, allowing the summer sun to heat the house uninhibited.

Every Window and Door is Glazed For Optimal Insulation

Glazing is a shield that minimizes the warming effects the sun's radiation has on a home's interior space. Every window and door of DesertSol is glazed, reducing the strain on the air conditioning system, and significantly contributing to the home's ultra-efficiency.
Mechanical

Central Forced Air System

Air conditioning is critical in the Las Vegas home, and most homes are equipped with conventional ducted forced air systems. The ducts result in a 30% loss of energy in the A.C. system.

A Pair of Highly Efficient and Ductless Minisplit Heat Pumps

The minisplit heat pump design is popular in the eastern world (for good reason). Their small footprint, efficient and scalable output, and ability to both heat and cool the space make them the ideal fit for DesertSol.
Interior

DIY

Las Vegas homes have conventional interiors with carpet or tiled floors and white gypsum-board walls. This neutral interior is preferred by Las Vegas developers because it provides a blank slate for incoming homeowners.

Greenwich Village Loft Meets IBM Clean Room

While DesertSol's exterior is rugged and rough like the environment, the interior is modern and refined and features more polished versions of the exterior materials. The interior also contains a number of reconfigurable features, ensuring that the home can adapt to the homeowners' activities.
Automation

Home Automation Systems Are Not Widely Employed

Home Automation is a relatively well established industry, but many people don't realize it. Newer and more expensive homes in Las Vegas offer simple lighting control systems, but they don't usually cover HVAC equipment.

Everything Within the Home is Monitored and Controlled

Conventional home automation (lighting control) is expanded by incorporating intelligent control over the home's mechanical equipment. It monitors the interior environment, and adjusts the HVAC system to ensure it operates at maximum efficiency while maintaining a comfortable interior.