Hurricanes, wildfires, and floods produce dramatic images of destruction, but heatwaves cause more deaths in the U.S. each year. Research and new tools help us understand how fans can provide resiliency during extreme heat events. Fans may use 10 to 100 times less energy than air conditioning, reducing the impact on power grids during these events.
CBE’s research activities provide a unique training ground for UC Berkeley students to learn advanced skills in building science, often in collaboration with CBE’s consortium of industry leaders. Our graduates have gone on to highly successful careers, including many in leadership positions, in the building sector and beyond. In this Centerline post, we catch up with three alumni — Kit Elsworth, Soazig Kaam, and Sara Tepfer — to learn about their current work roles, what inspires them, and where they are headed.
Each summer in the Italian Alps, workers spread acres of plastic tarps across a beloved glacier in a desperate attempt to prevent it from melting due to the warming environment. While climate change may be an abstract concept to many, for this mountain community the warming climate is an everyday reality, prompting them to action. This reaction became the inspiration and content for an installation co-created by CBE’s newest faculty member, Assistant Professor of Architecture Giovanni Betti. The installation has been selected for the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale and will be on display from May to November.
Occupant surveys provide valuable insights into how well a building is performing. Historically these surveys focus on comfort and satisfaction. However, as our attention shifts to occupant health and wellbeing, we wonder whether our tools are measuring all we need them to. In a recent paper, we look at the CBE Occupant Survey tool and its database to evaluate its measurement and benchmarking properties, while also identifying new enhancements intended to support the creation of spaces that truly benefit those who use them.
The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the restaurant industry, forcing many beloved institutions to close, while many have pivoting to take-out service and outdoor dining only. While we rally to support our favorite eateries, colder climates present some serious challenges to patio dining. In this Centerline post we borrow ideas from CBE’s experience with prototyping and testing innovative and energy-efficient ways to help people comfortably dine al fresco as we get through a dark and cold pandemic winter.
As we reach the final weeks of 2020 — a year we are all happy to put behind us — we take a moment to reflect on the many challenges of the year, and also some successes made possible through the support and resilience of our industry partners and collaborators who navigated with us through truly unprecedented times.
The historic renovation and expansion of Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco has been recognized as the winner of CBE’s 2020 Livable Buildings Award. The design team conducted comprehensive carbon accounting, and the project is expected to yield net positive energy performance. Conferred annually by UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment, this program recognizes buildings that demonstrate ‘livability’ in terms of occupant satisfaction, sustainability and architectural design.
No aspect of a building is more visible, or holds more didactic potential, than its facade. However, what you see is not always what you get. In spite of the facade’s explicit visibility, a facade’s appearance may not reveal much about a building’s performance in terms of energy, resilience or how it impacts the health and welfare of occupants. This most visible part of a building, when it comes to performance, is an enigma. To counter this, CBE researchers are working on multiple efforts to create new facade tools and metrics, and to document examples of excellence in terms of facade performance.
Already a core part of CBE’s research team, Carlos Duarte completed his PhD dissertation earlier this year and has joined CBE as a post-doctoral researcher. We caught up with him via Zoom while the campus is still closed due to the ongoing concerns of Covid-19.
Imagine an ice cream parlor that offers only one flavor of ice cream, one chosen by scientists based on what an ‘average’ person wants. While this idea seems absurd, a similar logic has been used in establishing standards for thermal comfort in buildings. A group of CBE staff, industry partners and others have developed a revision to thermal comfort standards that acknowledges the variability in human comfort preferences.