When we were deciding where to build the first Culdesac, we looked all across the US and chose Tempe, AZ. The reasons we chose Tempe include the thriving job market, forward-looking government, and the high quality of life that the city offers. Additionally, public transit options like the light rail, street car, and bike path network make Tempe a great place to be car-free. One of the questions we often get though, is about the weather. With over 300 days of sunshine per year, the climate in Tempe is actually fantastic. When building for a sunny, desert climate, we consciously designed the neighborhood in ways that keep it cool, especially during the summertime months. Here are some of the ways we’ve made the outdoor environment at Culdesac a great place to be, year round.
Over 50% landscaped space and no asphalt anywhere
By designing for people, we were able to shape our neighborhood in a wonderfully inviting way. This looks like 55% open space. In places you could have seen parking, you’ll instead see beautiful landscaping. And to keep all this space cool, we’re building with absolutely zero asphalt. Cities are prone to something called the urban heat island effect. Surfaces, like asphalt, absorb the heat from the sun, and then radiate it out throughout the day and into the evening. By not building with asphalt, the surfaces at Culdesac Tempe reflect heat rather than absorb it. This keeps every part of the neighborhood cooler, naturally.
Bright colors that also reflect heat, not absorb it
When designing Culdesac Tempe, we knew that both the materials used, and colors of the buildings would greatly influence the temperature. So we decided on a bright white paint. By painting with colors that reflect sunlight, not absorb it, we can keep the temps down. A bonus of reflecting heat is that it makes buildings more thermally efficient. The gains in efficiency will translate directly to lower cooling costs for residents and a reduction in energy usage.
Significantly more shade coverage
Shade is one of the best ways to beat the heat, especially a dry heat. The temperature can feel 10-15 degrees cooler in the shade, so an easy way to make a place more comfortable is simply to add more shade. Our abundant shade coverage is a product of us building streets for people. The closeness of our buildings allows plenty of shade coverage. Additionally, the buildings are angled in a way to maximize sun when you want it, and minimize it when you don’t. This can be seen most prominently in our many paseos and pathways, which work as wonderfully shaded places to walk.
Trees with large shade canopies
Trees don’t just provide wonderful shade, they also naturally cool the area around them. This cooling effect is a byproduct of photosynthesis. Shade is one of the best ways to keep cool, and shade from trees is our favorite way to achieve this goal. Not all trees provide an equal amount of shade. For instance, palm trees provide very little shade, which is why we have zero of them at Culdesac Tempe. We carefully selected our trees to provide significant shade coverage. Areas where people will spend time, like courtyards, will have plentiful shade coverage from both the buildings and trees. Trees can provide abundant shade and make places more beautiful. We are excited for people to see how verdant, and thus cool, our neighborhood will be.
People have been living in hot climates for thousands of years and have learned how to design for heat reduction. At Culdesac Tempe, we’re directly applying the best lessons in sustainable desert construction. Features like ample shade coverage from both buildings and trees, buildings that are painted bright colors to reflect the heat, and deliberate design choices like zero asphalt, everywhere, will make Culdesac Tempe the coolest place in Tempe.