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2012 Upjohn Research Initiative Program – Grant Recipients

Emergy, Construction Ecologies, and Built Environments

Principal Investigator:
Kiel Moe, AIA (Harvard University)

A primary ambition of this research is to present designers with accurate ecological concepts and quantitative rigor that provoke urgent questions about the potential of built environments in twenty-first century urbanization. What role, exactly, do designers have in ecological systems? How, exactly, can buildings feedback ecologically in the most powerful ways? How best to evaluate claims of sustainability? How, exactly, have the material footprints of buildings and landscapes changed over the past centuries? What is the ultimate ecological function of design? This project considers these questions in terms of the only comprehensive ecological accounting model: emergy and maximum power design. This mode of analysis is new to architecture. As emblematic examples of emergy in the context of architecture and landscape architecture, the sites of the Empire State Building and Central Park will be studied over 300-years of occupation. The plot of the Empire State Building will be evaluated from its native forest condition, to colonial farm (1799-1850), to brownstones (1850-1891), to the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (1891-1929), to the Empire State Building construction (1930), to the latter’s recent energy efficiency retrofits (2009). The plot of Central Park will be evaluated over the same time period, from forest condition to Seneca Village settlement (1830s), to original park construction (1856-80s), to Robert Moses era renovations (1933-50), to retrofits associated with the Central Park Conservancy (1980-present). The building material and energy flows for these sites will be quantified, evaluated, and mapped based on data from the past three centuries.

A Framework for an Energy Efficient and Computer Automated Housing Design

Principal Investigator:
Timothy L. Hemsath (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, phDesign LLC)

This proposal would collaborate with a larger project, funded by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to produce a computerized housing customization and energy-efficiency design tool that injects architectural design into the home building industry. The proposed tool will inform the construction of holistically conceived, owner-unique, site-specific and performance-optimized homes and is designed to be used by an individual, architect and/or home builder to produce a custom, site-specific home that responds to personal needs, economics and individual preferences, while maximizing energy efficiency. The project goals are: (1) identify at least six to 12 fundamental elements that are critical to the energy efficient design of a house; (2) create computationally based parametric models and means of testing and optimizing each element on a range of sites, and (3) develop a report that outlines the computational protocol identifying how the elements inform better residential practice.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:timhemsath:Documents:UNL:Papers:Energy Modeling:Images:House angle.png

Solid Timber Building Performance

Principal Investigator:
Ryan E. Smith (University of Utah)

This research project is to study the potential of solid timber design to productions supply chain for the US market, building on the lessons learned from Europe and most recent beetle kill pine experience from Canada to provide a value added building delivery from this otherwise waste material. To realize design to manufacture supply chain, and for the ultimate investment in beetle kill stand dead stock solid timber building products, this study will undertake to perform a holistic evaluation considering relative solid timber products available, previous market entry performance abroad, potential US market size and skill sets, available resources, required infrastructure and knowledge and identifiable barriers to success. The method used will be a qualitative case study evaluation of projects and stakeholders through site visits, interviews and surveys.

Thermal Performance of Façades

Principal Investigator:
Andrea Love, AIA, LEED AP (Payette Associates)

The goal of this research project is to determine façade details that can reduce the heat lost through thermal bridging. Building on our initial investigations, we will image seven additional buildings to understanding the real thermal performance of building envelopes and to increase the practice’s knowledge of the discrepancy between design intentions and actual performance. The analysis will allows us to arrive at improved detailing of different systems, such as curtain walls, metal panels, rain screens and masonry facades, as well as common problem envelope transitions like horizontal to vertical, soffits and window openings. 3 Ultimately, the study will propose alternatives to industry standards that can provide enhanced performance.


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