Energy and water resource consumption are underlying many major global stresses, and the combination of climate change and an increasing population might only exacerbate them. The built environment (residential and commercial buildings) are major consumers of both energy and water, both from a direct and indirect perspective. In the United States, approximately 40% of all primary energy, and about 75% of all electricity produced, are consumed within buildings (1). While direct water consumption by the built environment is only about 12% of US water withdrawals, the indirect water footprint of the electricity consumed in the built environment equates to another 34% of all US water withdrawals, bringing the combined direct and indirect total to just under 50% (2).
In many southern states, air conditioning loads drive the overall peak load (and wholesale market price of electricity) on the electric grids. During the summer in Texas, the cumulative electric demand from residential air conditioners alone can be over 40% of the peak load on the electric grid (3). With the Texas population projected to grow by 80% in the next 50 years, coupled with projected warming temperatures, residential water demands and air conditioning loads are expected to increase (4). In the midst of these challenges, Texas is looking for ways to address water and energy issues.
The UT/TUM Solar Decathlon house, NexusHaus, will address both sustainable and affordable urban housing in the context of energy and water resource constraints. This net zero energy, zero water capable house accomplishes these goals through a combination of photovoltaic electricity generation, integrated thermal/water storage systems, and smart home monitoring and management.
For more information about the engineering of NexusHaus, select one of the icons below:
- EIA. Monthly Energy Report, U.S. Energy Information Administration, February, 2015.
- M. A. Maupin, J. F. Kenny, S. S. Hutson, J. K. Lovelace, N. L. Barber, and K. S. Linsey. Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010, U.S. Geological Survey, November, 2014.
- ERCOT. Report on the Capacity, Demand, and Reserves in the ERCOT Region – February 2014, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, February, 2014.
- Texas Water Development Board. 2012 Texas State Water Plan. Technical report, Texas Water Development Board, 2012.