WaterShed’s Integrated Approach to Engineered System Design

WaterShed is designed around the core concept of integration, not only between architecture and landscape, people and nature, but also integration of engineered systems such as the solar thermal array, ventilation, and air-conditioning units. Systems engineering seeks to understand and exploit the often complex and dynamic interactions between components in order to maximize performance and reliability, to reduce cost and enhance comfort.

WaterShed’s integrated design approach is best illustrated by the interaction of the liquid desiccant wall (LDW), the mini-split heat pumps, and the solar thermal array. Each component operates independently, maintaining a comfortable climate within the house. At the system level, however, each component improves the operation of the others as well. The LDW dehumidifies the air, reducing the latent load on the mini-split heat pumps which increases their capacity to cool the air. The solar thermal array not only provides domestic hot water to the house, but also regenerates the desiccant fluid, using heat to drive out moisture absorbed from the house. This integration enables WaterShed to use heat to help cool the house more effectively. Excess solar thermal energy can also be used to provide supplemental space heating in the winter, reducing the heating load on the mini-splits as well.

Graphic of Integrated System

Integrated System
Image Credit: Newton Gorrell

WaterShed incorporates multiple components designed to share functions such as heating and air conditioning. This allows the control system to select the most effective combination of component operating modes to meet comfort and energy goals at any given time, depending on weather conditions, stored energy reserves, and homeowner preferences.

WaterShed’s ‘systems-thinking’ approach does not require specially designed components, but instead focuses on how the components are selected, implemented, and controlled. In this way, the house exhibits many of the dynamic characteristics of a living organism.

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