Monthly Archives: September 2013
A large driver of our ecosystem is energy consumption. Energy is all around us and we need it to generate power for buildings, transportation, electronics, as well as heating and cooling. Electricity and the energy that creates it has become an integrated part of modern day society and it’s difficult to imagine life without it. Although energy exists all around us, we found in lecture that it is difficult to transform energy into a usable state. Primarily natural resources are used to generate energy forms that can be then transferred to areas throughout the world. In this process, a great deal of natural resources is used to generate energy and only a small percentage of it is actually used. An example would be the creation of dams, which create two ground planes and force water to rapidly fall and turn turbines, which generate energy. When the water falls, it rapidly rotates turbines, which then create mechanical energy (Ristenen 24). The mechanical energy of the turbine then uses generators to transform it into electrical energy. The electrical energy must be transmitted over high voltage transmission lines to be used in homes and communities (Ristenen 24). This process may seem harmless to our environment but in turn alters many unique ecosystems of rivers. Dams also have grown rapidly in size to force the flow of water to become stronger and stronger to turn larger turbines. So with all this dependency on energy forms such as electricity, it becomes very scary to think about what will happen when natural resources are used up and our energy production greatly collapses.
So how much natural resources does the world consume? According to Garrick Utley’s article, the world’s wealthiest sixteen percent consumes about eighty percent of the world’s natural resources (CNN). As the Earths’ population is growing exponentially, our natural resources are declining, we are using more and more energy. In 2010, America accounted for about twenty percent of the world’s primary consumption (EIA). As a society that is dependent on energy it is a necessity that we cut down on energy consumption and find alternative energy sources as well as rethinking our built environment. In 2012, nearly forty percent of the United States energy consumption was consumed in residential and commercial buildings (EIA). This poses an opportunity in the design world to rethink building systems and the way they consume energy.
The Genzyme Corporate headquarters building in Cambridge, Massachusetts demonstrates a new beginning to re-thinking the way in which buildings are designed. The architects carefully plan and create a design scheme that allows for the maximum amount of natural light to enter a large amount of space.
Behnisch Architects designed the central atrium to be a void space that allows for light to enter into the surrounding office spaces. The building uses a system of louvers and mirrors that bend light from the sun from various directions and direct light throughout the building. This type of design approach cuts back on the amount of light energy needed in buildings by using simple techniques. The sun provides light throughout the day so it makes more sense to use light that is already available instead of creating dark enclosed buildings that don’t allow for light to enter.
By changing the way we view our buildings and using smart design approaches, I feel that we will eliminate excess energy consumption. If buildings are further calibrated to receive the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the seasons and allow for natural breezes to enter in hot months part of the battle is already solved. Instead of making a closed structure that uses so much energy in order to cool and light it, we can begin to open our buildings up to the natural environment. Furthermore, I find it interesting to begin to re-think whole cities and the ways they are built. By finding more practical solutions that use sustainable resources we can begin to restructure cities and the ways in which people move around in them. I just wonder what it will look like.
a) My site receive about nine hours of sunlight on March 21
b)On December 21 sunlight strikes my site around 8:00am and on June 21 around 7:15am
c) June 21st is the day that receives the most sunlight
d) ALtitude 43 Azimuth 242
e) I would try orientate the porch to the south and have a covering that would shade the porch from the high summer sun and allow for the lower winter sun to enter and warm the porch. In my site I would have to investigate the type of trees that are already on the site to see if they are deciduous and would shed their leaves in the winter. This would allow for the lower winter sun to pass through tree branches and reach my site. If the trees do not lose their leaves in the winter it would not be possible to face a porch that would be warmer in the winter.
f) There are a lot of trees on my site that could potentially be natural shades for windows that block the sun during hot summer months. Northern windows would also have a lot of sunlight during the summer months and would not need as many window coverings. Southern windows will receive more light and in warmer conditions would need window coverings to block light before they reach the window to avoid excess heat.
All around us change is happening. We can feel these changes taking place in our physical world in climate change and we see the polar icecaps transforming into water. Humans are said to account for just one quarter of the biomass but produce about ninety-nine percent of all of the earth’s pollution (Yeang 22). All around us pollution is filling the air and eating away at the ozone layer. Our natural resources have been overused and are now reaching the brinks of exhaustion. We can no longer live healthy within our current means and maintain this increasing consumption. Some people suggest that these changes are leading to the end of the world or some sort of Armageddon. On the other hand, architects and designers are not viewing these changes as the end of the world but perhaps as a new canvas that will allow for new experimentation of ecological design and practices of sustainability.
I find myself wondering how these changes will effect our built environment and human interaction. In the design world, the changing environment allows for a new sort of design to emerge that addresses issues of the natural world but can also be resilient for future changes. Furthermore, more and more studies are showing that green practices are not going to be enough to reverse problems that have come about such as pollution. Our infrastructure and built environment are in need of new systematic designs that changes the way humans live and interact with the world. Sustainable design solutions are generally to ensure society is able to satisfy its needs without diminishing chances of future generations and minimize environmental impacts (Yeang 28). In order to implement these solutions, however, whole systems such as urban centers need to be rethought in order to maximize solutions. For example, even though there are newer cars being built that are more efficient and use fewer natural resources, they are still only available to certain classes of people who can afford them. By viewing systems on a larger scale and recognizing all of its connective parts that are drivers and outputs of those systems, we can more affectively create solutions. Instead of looking at green cars as a solution, it would be even more profound to re-design a city where people would no longer need cars. I’d like to think these changes in our environment would not only create new challenges for designers and architects, but also call for a new school of thought on how we think about our built environment and how it interacts with humans. More specifically, how architecture can begin to encourage positive human behavior environmentally and socially. These changes can begin to take place at the urban scale, where individuals already have a low carbon footprint but as whole cities often produce mass amounts of pollution and use large amounts of natural resources. By studying urban centers and identifying patterns within systems we can begin to find certain leverage points that allow us to integrate ecological designs and create more resiliency within out cities. Without this wider perception of systems, it will be much more difficult to fix isolated problems because we will miss their larger connections to the environment.