Monday, May 2, 2011

Desert Living Center Educates in Las Vegas

The Desert Living Center (DLC) in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, is showcases green building methods, materials and technologies that are appropriate for a desert climate, such as thick straw bale and rammed earth walls, and evaporative cooling towers that lower heating and cooling energy use. The buildings are also orientated to maximize solar for heat and light using passive design principles, with minimal mechanical systems. Stormwater is collected in this area of very low rainfall so that it can be used to irrigate gardens. Walls are insulated with shredded blue jean material, and salvaged materials include recycled railroad trusses  that form a roof structure. Solar panels cover parking areas and are used as design elements in free-standing pole-mounted systems. The five DLC buildings are part of the Las Vegas Springs Preserve, a 180-acre park that features a 1.8 mile trail system with interpretive overlooks, historic structures and archaeological sites; an eight-acre botanical garden with thousands of native and drought-tolerant plants, outdoor classrooms and a cooking demonstration area, and an accessible garden; the Cienega desert wetland that serves as a home for hundreds of native plant, bird and animal species; and a reconstructed cauldron pool depicts the natural springs that once bubbled from beneath the valley floor.