Environment and Energy Implications: The Discrete System

Energy and environmental considerations for buildings have typically been in the form of prescription: material specifications and/or design guidelines. These prescriptions not only limit the designer, but have also been shown to have little effect on energy consumption. The fundamental flaw of the prescriptive approach is that it accepts by fiat the existing outdated systems approach and the early twentieth century conceptions of the human environment. If we were to rethink the nature of the human environment, we would begin to realize that there is substantial energy savings to be gained from dismantling the standard ambient systems (HVAC, lighting) and designing the human experience in a building instead of specifying the anonymous and ubiquitous ambient system. Furthermore, the designer\’s input into the design process would be expanded rather than constrained.Lighting is by far the single largest consumer of electricity in this country. Light is also the most powerful design tool in rendering the human experience in a building. By designing what the eye sees, rather than blanketing a space with a homogenous light, we stand to reduce energy usage by up to an order of magnitude while giving ourselves greater freedom and control of the design process.The course will examine the design and application of discrete light. New technologies such as fiber optics and LEDs will be considered, and simulation tools such as Lightscape will be used for analysis. The site for the exploration will be the new museum under consideration by Harvard University. Prerequisites:GSD 6205 and GSD 2107Students must be proficient in Autocad and should have some knowledge of Lightscape.