Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (MArch)



First Committee Member

Alfredo Fernandez-Gonzalez

Second Committee Member

Alfredo Fernandez-Gonzalez

Third Committee Member

Glenn N. Nowak

Fourth Committee Member

Joshua Vermillion

Fifth Committee Member

David James

Number of Pages



Global warming and climate change has drawn great concerns in recent years due to the impact residential buildings have on the environment. Heating and cooling consumption make up most of household energy in the desert southwest. This energy demand is a big contributor of carbon emissions being release on to the environment. In an effort to minimize energy consumption, this research study aims to identify an energy efficient wall assembly that can be use in the U.S. desert southwest, that is suitable for the environment. With the use of research and simulations, using BEopt version, this investigation compares and evaluates different exterior wall assemblies to the standard code compliant construction. After ranking each wall, an ideal assembly was selected based on best performance. The information and results of this paper used in a case study project for the U.S. Department of Energy, Race to Zero Student Design Competition to find out that the chosen wall assembly would in fact help reduce energy consumption in the U.S. desert southwest.

The findings indicate that all of the seven wall assemblies studied show a significant improvement in site energy, CO2 emission reductions, and lowered energy annual costs compared to the base case scenario. In contrast, all wall assemblies, except for the R-17.1 2x6, 24" o.c. advanced practice wall assembly, show an increase of initial construction costs of up to 21.1% or up to an additional $12,532. However, all initial extra investment on any of the wall assemblies studied would be paid back within six months or less.

The least desirable wall assembly would be the R-17.1 2x6, 24" o.c. advanced practice wall type, as this one had the least amount of energy savings, CO2 emissions reductions, and energy annual costs cutbacks out of all the types studied. It also had the longest amount of simple payback and the smallest amount of additional initial construction cost of $276.

The R-28.8 ICF 2 in EPS, 12” Concrete, 2 in. EPS wall type is less favorable. Though it provided moderate energy savings of 953 kWh annually, and CO2 emission and energy cost reductions, its initial cost of over $12,000 or 21% was more, compared to the base case wall.

The R-20.6 ICF 2 in. EPS, 4" Concrete, 2 in. EPS, the R-28.3 Double Wood Stud 2x4 Centered, 24 in. o.c., and the R-28.5 Double Wood Stud 2x4 Staggered, 24 in. o.c. show a medium range of energy savings, as well as moderate initial construction cost.

Last, the two wall systems that this study found that provided the most benefits in terms of annual energy savings, carbon emissions, energy cost reductions, initial costs, and shortest amount of pay back were the R-29.2 SIP 7.4 in EPS Core, and the R-36 SIP 9.4 in EPS Core wall assemblies. These two wall types would be the most desirable options for single family residential wall construction for the desert southwest.


Residential Wall Assembly; U.S. Desert Southwest


Architecture | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Sustainability

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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