An experimental town
January 16th, 2012 by
Here’s an interesting story: a company is hoping to be build a new town in New Mexico. Only thing is, you can’t live there. It’s a ghost town.
The town (currently called the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation) will have all the amenities that a real city would have, including houses and businesses. Everything would be fully functional with utilities. It would even have a mall (not filled with merchandise presumably)!
So why on earth is this town being built? For research of course! Pegasus Global Holdings will use the town to test energy efficient and green home innovations. MSN Real Estate gives an example of what might take place there:
If it all sounds too crazy, here’s a down-to-earth example: Say scientists want to see if a new kind of smart thermostat can make an entire neighborhood more energy-efficient. They could hand out the thermostats to homeowners in Albuquerque and check in on their meters for the next year. But the results would depend on a lot of factors out of the researchers’ control, such as how warm or cool individuals like their rooms to be or the houses’ insulation quality. And if the experimental system doesn’t work, the scientists would have disrupted people’s lives and maybe increased their utility bills.
But nobody would live in the center’s buildings. Computerized systems would mimic human behavior such as turning thermostats up and down, switching lights off and on or flushing toilets, but they would do so under the scientists’ control. A research team could install the thermostats in a block of the center’s two-story suburban houses, then run multiple long-term scenarios, manipulating the imaginary residents’ behavior to see what the energy use is under different circumstances.
Oh, and since there will be researchers and scientists there to run things in the imaginary city, they’ll be staying in facilities underground.
Although building an entire city that no one lives in might seem odd, having this sort of research space might lead to all sorts of discoveries with energy efficiency in the home. What do you think?
Image courtesy of pascalbovet.com on Flickr.