UNM students build solar home

Updated: 12/23/2013 5:51 PM | Created: 12/18/2013 5:52 PM
By: Jorge Torres, KOB Eyewitness News 4

An 860 square-foot home at Mesa Del Sol is a project that was designed by 50 University of New Mexico and Arizona State University students. It's not only solar powered, but also has some cool materials inside to keep the house comfortable, like additional insulation known as "phase change material."

Olga Lavrova, an Electrical Engineering professor at UNM, says that when the temperature outside drops, the material goes from liquid state to solid state, like ice.

"It absorbs all the cold from the outside and keeps the warm inside," Lavrova said.

The project, known as Solar Homes Adapting for Desert Equilibrium (SHADE), was one of 20 in the Department of Energy's "Solar Decathlon." The house placed third in energy balance.

The cool features inside, like foldable Murphy beds and fiber concrete walls, helped the house receive high marks in engineering.

"We took sixth place in engineering, beating out some other prestigious engineering schools," Lavrova  said.

It's a project that the engineers at Mesa Del Sol may try to emulate down the road, says engineer Manny Barrera.

"They take an important step towards effectively, efficiently, and economically integrating renewables in a regular community so we look forward to that opportunity," he said.

The total price tag: $285,000. The house is expected to pay for itself within five to seven years.

Walkthroughs for the general public will be available after Christmas.

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