All Academic Programs

Energy and Environments

Upturning the conventional definition of “sustainable design,” which tends to privilege efficiency and conservation, Energy and Environments positions design as a way to harness and deliver maximum power. At the GSD, we set out to develop more ambitious and totalizing energy theories, techniques and technologies as a way to confront the demands and opportunities of the 21st century. The approach stems from thermodynamic and ecological laws, laws that have yet to fully impact design culture. All energy systems aim to maximize—not minimize—their energy intake and use. Energy and Environments argues that architecture and design should do the same, establishing a more thermodynamically cogent and ecologically exuberant method of practice better suited to the 21st century.

As a distinct concentration area within the Master in Design Studies program, Energy and Environments allows students to examine energy issues across disciplines and scales, taking full advantage of courses and initiatives throughout the GSD and Harvard University. It is closely associated with the Energy, Environments, and Design Research Lab as a way to couple theory with applied research. Many students work on active, funded research projects, which now include an emergy evaluation of the Empire State Building and Central Park (a full account of the material and energy flows through these two sites over the past three centuries), a history of insulation, and the analysis and design of rehabilitation strategies for tourist infrastructure in the Algarve. The curriculum is diverse: from short workshops, half-semester module courses, regular seminars and lectures, and to year-long thesis projects and multi-year lab projects, Energy and Environments students address the relationship of design and energy across a full spectrum of agendas and projects.

Area Coordinator
Kiel Moe, Assistant Professor of Architectural Technology


Martin Bechthold, Professor of Architectural Technology
Niall Kirkwood, Professor of Landscape Architecture
John Macomber, Lecturer in Architecture and Urban Planning and Design
Benjamin Markham, Lecturer in Architecture
Alejandra Menchaca, Lecturer in Architecture
Panogiotis Michalatos, Assistant Professor in Architectural Technology 
Kiel Moe, Assistant Professor of Architecture
Spiro Pollalis, Professor of Architecture 
Joyce Rosenthal, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning
Matthias Schuler, Transsolar, Adjunct Professor of Environmental Technology
Holly Samuelson, Lecturer in Architecture

Research Affiliation
Energy| Environments | Design Lab

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