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2009 Upjohn Research Initiative Program - Grant Recipients

Congratulations to all of the 2009 recipients!

Indexing Sustainability: Defining, Measuring and Managing the Performance of Urban Development

Principal investigators:

Joyce Hsiang, School of Architecture, Yale University
Bimal Mendis, School of Architecture, Yale University

This article investigates how sustainable development is defined; how its performance can be measured through indexing and indicators; and how comparative and spatial indexing methods have the potential to change the way cities are designed. The first section examines the complex and reciprocal relationship between sustainability and urban development through a historic overview of its definition. The second section analyzes and compares existing sustainability indexes and development indicators from multiple scales and sectors as a means of understanding how performance of development can be assessed and accounted for with objective quantifiable measures. The final section suggests and describes two new strategies for indexing the sustainability of urban development: comparative indexing and spatial indexing.

Energy Efficiency Benchmarks for Housing (PDF)
Principal investigators:

Jörg Rügemer, assistant director, Integrated Technology in Architecture Center (I TAC), Assistant Professor, School of Architecture University of Utah
Ryan E. Smith, director, I TAC, Associate Professor, School of Architecture, University of Utah

This report performs a comparative study of energy efficient benchmark housing systems and their respective capability and culpability to achieve net zero energy for a residential case study project in Park City, Utah, which is located in the Utah Cold Climate Zone. This research studies the following four rating systems for their capacity to achieve net zero energy housing and the associated costs: EPA Energy Star Qualified Homes, ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard, USGBC LEED for Homes 2008, and the Passive Home Planning Package 2007. The measures taken to move the case study buildings closer to net zero energy during the design and construction process are evaluated for their ROI cost benefit.

REIs: Renewable Energy Infrastructures (PDF)
Principal investigator:

Chris Ford, Assistant Professor, College of Architecture, University of Nebraska

Our university-based design / research team has identified and focused on a problem that is defined by renewable energy production, electrical transmission, and urban land use policy. We believe a Renewable Energy Infrastructure (REI) addresses this problem in an effective way and ultimately surpasses the prevailing practices of each of these three identified areas. We were able to find several projects, both built and unbuilt, that either possess attractive qualities or address some constraint that an REI would also likely face.

Responsive Field: An Active Environmental Control System
Principal investigators

Rob Ley, principal, Urbana; design faculty, SCI-Arc
Joshua G. Stein, principal, Radical Craft; associate professor, Woodbury University

Responsive Field is an ongoing research endeavor that investigates the potential for emerging material technology to offer a responsive climate control surface which can mediate and negotiate the zone between architecture and the environment. Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs), a category of metals that change shape according to temperature, offer the possibility of efficient, fluid movement without the mechanized motion of earlier technologies. Operating at a molecular level, this motion parallels that of plants and lower level organisms that are considered responsive but not conscious. Larger than the scale of nanotechnology, this research is not an engineering exercise, but rather a translation of existing, visible technologies which offer profound implications on the way we conceive of the built environment. A field of sun flowers as they track the sun across the sky offers an image of the type of responsive motion this technology afford. Akin to the sun flowers “desire” to maximize efficient solar energy collection, Responsive Field offers the possibility of learning from nature’s behavior rather than a simply mimicry of natural form. Rather than focusing on centralized intelligent systems, this research instead investigates decentralized responsive systems which, like their biological corollaries, exhibit behavioral awareness without rational intelligence.

Beginning in 2005, support from the AIA, IDEC, and Graham Foundation has funded successful proof of-concept mock-ups and installations verifying the potential of the material technology and culminating in a recent exhibition at the Storefront for Art and Architecture. This current phase of research seeks to develop the precise integration between the software and hardware technologies necessary for more public and mainstream construction applications.


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