Guest lecture on healthy buildings

I had the privilege of lecturing on my design and building experience at a University in Madrid this past fall semester. The subject of the lecture, presented to an eager audience of about 40 masters students and 10 faculty at UCJC, was the use of passive design strategies in the construction of academic buildings. Strategies I continue to explore in k-12 and higher ed applications include passive solar, daylighting, and natural ventilation. These are almost always hybridized with mechanical systems, especially in Midwest USA applications where both heating and cooling are expected of owners. The approaches almost always require “training” of building users, and the nature of the training usually is in response to a cultural expectation and attitude of building automation (automated comfort controls, lighting controls, etc.). What I have found is that the passive building approach, one that has any hope whatsoever of really reducing energy usage and utility costs, requires an intentional effort on the part of the building owner and users. Often, it is the building user, more than the systems, that require the most care. In this way, future architectural practice will most certainly include the education of the owner and user groups to optimize the effectiveness of any comfort control system, passive or active. I dismiss the notion that we can somehow design low energy or high performance buildings without changing our cultural expectations. This flies in the face of conventional approaches that seek to solve technological problems with more technology, but nevertheless it is true. Low energy is directly related to “low tech/smart design” in my observation. The link to the newsclip, in Spanish, is here.

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