Peter Rowe, Raymond Garbe Professor of Architecture and Urban Design and Harvard University Distinguished Professor
Yun Fu, Design Critic in Urban Planning and Design
A useful way of regarding adverse environmental effects of various forms of urban settlement is by way of a metabolic and systems view of the material aspects of such settlement. In short, to be able to re-write settlements in a manner that creates links between natural domains like the geosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere with commonly defined land use types and activities. The method to be adopted is a stock-flow model involving Sankey diagram depictions of water, energy and material flows from originating domains to spatial settlement production and waste management using available data, or in other words, from ‘cradle to end use and disposal’. As a proof of concept, three manners of settlement co-existence will be explored. They are compact urban settlement, peripheral development and informal settlement. Cases will be drawn from Paris, France, Boston in the US and Monterrey, Mexico.
Niall Kirkwood, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Technology and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
REMADE aims to develop graduate design studio courses on the subject of the naturally occurring landscape as both a ground for advancing core knowledge on equity in climate change planning, as well as on developing practical design tools for city communities on sustainability and living with nature. Among these tools, the concept of the ‘climate change classrooms’ in the urban fabric will be developed and rethought. Site scale public spaces will be designed for access by all city residents and will provide climate change education as well as additional social and cultural amenities. The graduate studio course research will collaborate with existing researchers and organizations engaged with climate study and will advance understanding for local civic authorities and leadership, as well as local educational communities. The focus will be placed on naturally based approaches and the potential impact on climate equity and sustainability in Thailand.
Rachel Meltzer, Plimpton Associate Professor of Planning and Urban Economics
Extreme events, like the wildfires of California, can cause massive damage to the built infrastructure in their paths. In rebuilding after the disaster, there are not only the material costs of re-erecting those structures, but risk assessments of any future event that could once again compromise or destroy those very same structures. As we consider the planning and building of communities and infrastructures in the face of increasing climate change threats, like wildfires, the risk calculations, and who bears those risks, will be important considerations. In this project, we focus on the risk calculations of doing business under the threat of massive wildfires, and how that informs the valuation of commercial properties in California. In addition, we assess how the increased risk from the fires is differentially borne by property owners, tenants, and consumers. Commercial activity is an important component of any municipality’s economic and social health, and we know very little about how the risk of wildfires affects the decisions to invest in and use commercial infrastructure. For this study, we focus on retail commercial activity, as it provides clear delineations for risk calculations across the consumers and producers of those services. We then ask and test the following research questions: (i) how are wildfire harm and risk capitalized into commercial property values and rents?; and, to disentangle the mechanism of real estate price adjustments, (ii) how does wildfire harm and risk affect the type and intensity of retail services and productivity? Using longitudinal micro-spatial data on property leases and transactions, building features, establishments, and wildfire exposures, we exploit the conditional exogeneity of the wildfire events and very fine-grained spatial controls to identify the impact of wildfires on property prices, rents, and establishment viability.
Holly Samuelson, Associate Professor of Architecture
Aligning the timing of electricity demand with periods of clean generation is a key strategy in enabling the transition to a carbon-free electricity grid. Yet this has not been a traditional goal of the energy analysis methods or building energy codes informing and governing building design. This talk explains these concepts through a case study of glass selection. We hypothesized that, as solar power generation capacity grows, contrary to current practices and building code requirements, a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) on south-facing windows may not be the optimal design in, at least a subset of, electrified mid- and high-rise residential buildings in colder climates. As a case study, we simulated 13 permutations of glass properties in a prototypical apartment building in 19 US cities from mixed to very cold climate zones. We found, on average, a 37% increase in non-solar electricity demand when SHGC is optimized based on traditional goals. This large percentage suggests that glass selection is an important variable that requires careful consideration in an evolving energy context. As a surprising finding, even considering today's electrical grids and traditional energy efficiency goals, the established practice of using low SHGC of south-facing windows was not optimal for our subset of tested buildings.
Martin Bechthold, Kumagai Professor of Architectural Technology, Director of the Master in Design Engineering Program
Juan Pablo Ugarte, Lecturer in Architecture
Why do building occupants make the choices they make when it comes to environmentally friendly or unfriendly actions? How do buildings themselves contribute to shaping these behaviors? This research project explores if, and how, visual, tactile, auditory, olfactory, haptic, and other spatial and material factors may covertly and indirectly sway building users towards more sustainable behaviors. The sustainability-related behavior of building occupants has been studied extensively. Typical topics of research include data collection methods and related analysis frameworks, behavioral studies of window, lighting and space heating and cooling, and the quantitative modeling of human behaviors in numerical simulations, to name a few. These are all relevant topics, especially when considering the estimated potential for behaviorally driven energy savings, which is generally assumed to be in the range of 10-25 % for residential and 5-30 % for commercial buildings (Zhang et al. 2018). Buildings with little to no integration of data-driven control technology have a much higher potential for energy savings than those that include it (Sun and Hong 2017). With a US renewal rate of around 1%, and the technical, financial and political challenges of improving the existing building stock, this proposal is investigating how we might change occupant’s behavior through simple interventions in existing buildings towards more sustainable, energy-saving habits. Efforts to understand and influence the motivations behind human sustainable behaviors —or lack thereof— have been conducted in contexts as diverse as marketing, retail shopping, tourism, and nutrition, to name a few. In design, the interest in these topics is compounded with a growing body of work in other behavioral aspects of building occupancy such as productivity, mental health, and creativity. Methods and theories to shape user behavior include behavioral priming (Bargh et al. 1996) from behavioral psychology, Nudge Theory (Thaler and Sunstein 2008) from behavioral economics, subliminal priming (Strahan et al. 2002) from the marketing industry, as well as system theory (Simon 1957). The effect of education on our behavior in buildings has also been studied (Carrico, Riemer 2011). The proposed study investigates the potential impact of spatial and material factors on occupant behavior in relation to sustainable practices. We focus on what we tentatively call ‘implicit cues’ —i.e., aspects or portions of the built environment that may be used to promote specific behaviors in users in a covert fashion. These factors are different from explicit cues that include, for example, the known effect of revealing energy consumption data to occupants in order to encourage more mindful use of lighting, appliances, heating or cooling. The literature has largely focused on explicit cues, leaving much to be understood about the design-centered implicit cues!
Gareth Doherty, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
This research project will enable three months ‘landscape fieldwork’ in Lagos, Nigeria focused on the materials, objects—and colors—that comprise Lagos and their thermal and environmental properties.1 The result will be three live projects in three sites in Lagos: the Makoko slum, the Brazilian Quarters (founded by returned enslaved peoples), and the exclusive neighborhood of Victoria Island. These live projects will demonstrate to Lagosians how color can change perceptions of the built environment and adaptability to the effects of climate change. The project builds upon a 2021 CGBC grant that investigated the relationship between urban colors and the adaptability of Lagos to challenges posed by the increased temperatures associated with climate change. The previous project developed a cross-disciplinary methodology to evaluate urban colors and associated environmental potentials through an innovative mix of mapping techniques, remote fieldwork, computational analysis, data visualization, precedent studies, and design imagination. Color is rarely considered outside purely aesthetic considerations. Focused on Lagos, but applicable across African cities, the proposed second phase of the project will allow the PI to live in Lagos for three months. This immersive experience will facilitate the implementation of the “Chromatic Resilience Framework.” The CRF from the previous grant aims to design opportunities to change Lagos’s environmental performance through color from a diversity of perspectives: artistic, cultural, scientific, spiritual, and spatial.
Craig Douglas, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture
Malkit Shoshan, Design Critic in Urban Planning and Design
Rosalea Monacella, Design Critic in Landscape Architecture
The aim of this project is to question how energy transition might allow us to reimagine landscapes of extraction, production, transmission, consumption: repair them on the one hand, and/or repurpose, rewire, and decentralize them for renewables while exploring issues of ownerships and governance, such as the commons. The research project is conducted at four scales of enquiry, including: extraction infrastructure (oil fields, mines, and fracking), energy production infrastructure (power plants, refineries, solar and wind farms), transmission infrastructure (grids and pipelines), and consumption infrastructure (the home, community, and neighborhood).