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Issue 2.2

Post-Occupancy Testing of Thermal Dynamics of Design-Build Residences in Tucson, Arizona

A series of low-cost residences were designed and constructed by students and faculty in the University of Arizona’s design-build program to examine the questions of appropriate materials and technology in the hot arid desert today. Descriptions of three projects representative of the spectrum of materials and conservation strategies in the series include design intentions, research questions, and methodology for study. Thermal sensors placed inside the wall assemblies measured thermal transfer, and post-occupancy assessments revealed energy use in each dwelling as well as occasional mismatches between design assumptions and occupant behavior. These case study prototypes, which were purchased and occupied by families earning less than 80% of the area’s median income, aim to alter default housing design in the Southwest to better suit the climate and available resources.

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