Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Design: A Response to the Local Environment

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette TEAM Beausoleil would like to engage in conversation with the public about the issues we are investigating, as they relate to the delivery of our aptly named "Louisiana Solar Home", to the U.S. Department of Energy for the 2009 Solar Decathlon.

It is our hope that we can, through interaction and conversation, share with the general public the strategies and "know-how" necessary to create a stable energy future for the homes of south Louisiana. We also want to keep everyone up to date with the progress of Beausoleil, so that we might get feedback and gain insight as to improve our end product.
Conversation will be broken up into 4 categories; Design, Events, Construction, Engineering. Today's topic will be design, and will focus on the issue of regional relevance and sustainability.

The Beausoleil Louisiana Solar Home is just as its name implies, a solar home for Louisiana, but what about Louisiana identifies with ideas of sustainability?

If we look closely at the built history of our region, one can find evidence in our older homes of passive strategies used for temperature control. The people of our region once had an understanding of, and a literal connection with, nature in their everyday lives.

Simple design decisions, such as window placement /size, orientation of home/porch to the south, and choice materials all made a big difference in the efficiency of a home. We see this connection as valuable, and fading with every passing day, while we sit too long in front of power hungry air conditioners.

It occurred to us at a very early stage in the design process, that sustainability does not mean matching our massive consumption with high dollar active systems. This method tends to fail, as most people could not afford the necessary solar array size to meet their current usage.

Instead, it might require we take notes from our ancestors, and find creative ways to make our homes more efficient first. In this way, Beausoleil can surely draw from the rich building traditions in south Louisiana.

Tim Dumatrait, Beausoleil TEAM member

1 comment:

James Polk said...

It seems that the recent price of energy is forcing us to look at more environmentally sound solutions to building. Working WITH nature (not conquering it) is not an old paradigm, but an eternal one.

Before we had air conditioners, everybody knew how to design a home that worked with the climate. Now, most builders, including and especially the "high-end" builders, do not understand even the most basic principles of environmental design.

Are we on the verge of a new paradigm? If so, what's the tipping point? What will be the new design concepts that become so powerful, so self-evident, that even the most hard-core "businessman-builder" can't resist building an environmentally responsive home?