BACHELOR DEGREE: INTERIOR AND PRODUCT DESIGN BACHELOR THESIS: PRODUCT DESIGN ACADEMIC YEAR 2015 - 2016 STUDENT: ALICE RIDOLFI SUPERVISOR: FILIPPO PERNISCO SUPERVISOR II: CHRISTIAN LUDOVICI
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Abstract The topic focus of this thesis was the threat posed by Climate Change and its negative implications on our planet. Energy consumption being one of the main sources of carbon emissions causing Climate Change stimulated the research of nature inspired designs and architectural movements in favor of the environment, sustainable solutions like renewable energy sources and smart home technology designs that enable proper monitoring of household consumption. Household energy management is a sustainable solution that could reduce energy consumption all over the world, the design project developed as a communicative light device with the objective of informing a household of their consumption and accompanied by a smartphone app would raise awareness on individual energy consumption. By focusing on a small scale solution like household energy management, every household that would be willing to use the device would generate collective action to reduce carbon emissions. Raising energy consumption awareness means increasing attention to the environment and in result could be a solution to slow down Climate Change.
Project Presentation Product Concept
Review of Literature
04 08 12
Nature for Design Sustainable Solutions
19 26 31
Smart Home Technology Light Sources
a form of energy from charged elementary particles, usually supplied as electric current through cables, wires etc. As such an electric current is used to power lighting, heating, driving machines, etc.
Electricity surrounds us and is a part of us. Present in nature to allow an electrical storm to release the electric discharge in the atmosphere with powerful lightning strikes, vital in our bodies for synapses to pass on information through our cells, fundamental in powering technology, providing artificial light to contrast darkness, and facilitating long distance communication with a mobile phone or powering any other device like a tv for our use or enjoyment. It is inevitable that electrical energy will be a part of our lives, it has helped us discover new ways of life; starting from the invention of the light bulb in the 19th century; to new discoveries of technology in the 20th century that enabled us to use different and more effective methods to cure medical conditions and even introduced us to new ways of communication. Electrical energy can be considered one of the core technological elements in our modern day by day life as well as in our research for a better future; energy is an enabler and a main component for development, and it will, for a long time to go, be present in our everyday lives. Energy provides us with countless solutions, however in the last decade energy has been defined as major cause of a large global problem;
Climate Change. Earth’s climate is getting warmer, and at an unnatural pace; “the current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.”1 It is the consequence of our negligence for the environment as well as our disregard for unchecked pollution. Energy from non renewable-carbon sources is a major part of this problem, the way in which it is created - mainly through the burning of fossil fuels - releases (together with health dangerous particles and other toxic gases) carbon dioxide that accumulates in the atmosphere and enhances the greenhouse effect, which in turn enables the unnatural increase in temperature on earth. When carbon emissions caused by human activity enter the air they have dangerous effects on the environment, the economy, and our wellbeing. But just as we have caused it, we can halt its progress. In recent years scientists, engineers, architects and designers have been developing solutions to counteract this issue; like developing photovoltaic cells to absorb the sun’s light and convert it to electrical energy as an alternative energy source, mastering the art of exploiting the wind with windmill installations
1. Positive Lightning, Photographer: Kara Sawnson 2. Representation of synapses in the human body 3. Composite World map showing city lights (NASA)
as another renewable energy source, or recycling objects and materials to design and construct buildings and products that have higher regard to their surrounding environments. These solutions of sustainable changes have such a high potential that if applied on a global scale could slow down Climate Change and have a positive impact on enabling the earth to restore its balance. All in all, saving energy is the cleanest and cheapest solution and therefore energy efficiency and conservation is crucial to contributing to a positive impact against Climate Change. Energy efficiency means making some small changes that have long term effects, like for example replacing an incandescent lamp with a compact fluorescent lamp which uses much less energy to produce the same amount of light. Energy conservation on the other hand implies making sure not to use more energy than needed, like switching off a light that isnâ€™t needed. Both energy efficiency and energy conservation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These notions are easily integrative to a product design project that can encourage families to take part in consuming less for a better future. Electricity happens when atoms react with one another and send charges, creating a network
of pulses that produce electrical energy. Like atoms, people can act individually as well as collectively to make a change in their lifestyles and save energy. Saving energy is a question of education, perception and lifestyle. As electricity is present in our lives, so is design; any object we use, or products surrounding us were created through a process of research and production that gave the object its aesthetic and functionality. Design is essential in our everyday life that it can have, through an inventive mix of utility, aesthetic form and functions, a positive pull to encourage us to change a certain aspect of oneâ€™s lifestyle. By focusing on finding a solution to reduce a householdâ€™s energy consumption, the design project developed around the themes of communication and most importantly providing information; the project progressed as a communicative light device and the development of a smart phone application. Being sure the household members know exactly how much they are consuming, and what effect this has on the environment can be a solution to forming collective action against the increasing threat posed Climate Change. 4
4. Thesis Project Objectives
Climate Change climate change
a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
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Earth’s climate is always changing. However the Earth’s climate is getting warmer, NASA’s Earth Observatory databases stated that the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8° Celsius since 1880.2 Although this increase may seem like nothing at all, even the smallest changes in Earth temperature can have big effects.To understand Climate Change it is important to understand the sun and the atmosphere’s role in the Earth’s system. Solar radiation is the source of the Earth’s continuous flow of energy which powers its climate system. The sun’s heat energy passes through the Earth’s atmosphere and warms the surface. As temperatures increase, the Earth counterbalances by sending heat energy in the form of infrared radiation back into the atmosphere, where some of this is absorbed by gases in the atmosphere like carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and halocarbons. These gases act as a blanket, trapping the heat in the atmosphere and preventing it from being reflected too far from the Earth. This process keeps the temperature on Earth to an average of 15°C which is a warm enough temperature to sustain life for any living thing including humans, animals and plants - if these gases weren’t present the average
2. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/ 3. http://wwf.panda.org/
temperature would be about -18°C which isn’t an ideal temperature for any life form.3 This natural warming effect generated by the gases in the atmosphere is commonly known as the greenhouse effect. Climate Change is the result of the overbalance of this natural heating system. Our overuse of fossil fuels and our unsustainable lifestyles have generated an enhanced greenhouse effect therefore not allowing the natural temperature balance the Earth has been maintaining for millions of years. This is also commonly referred to as Global Warming; a gradual increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and its oceans, a change that is believed to be permanently changing the Earth’s climate. Global Warming has many causes, including deforestation, land use, biomass burning, waste disposal and treatment, transportation fuels, agricultural byproducts, industrial processes, residential and commercial building emissions and power stations. The main cause however is the overall increased release of CO2 in the atmosphere.
5. Simplified diagram of the greenhouse effect
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Carbon Dioxide is the most significant of the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere which keep the Earth warm. 4 billion years ago its concentration in the atmosphere was much higher than today - 80% compared to today’s 0.03%. Most of it was removed through photosynthesis process by plants and animals over time. All this carbon dioxide became locked in organisms that had absorbed it and then in minerals such as oil, coal and petroleum inside the Earth’s crust.3 The atmosphere has a natural carbon dioxide cycle that keeps its concentration in balance. Organisms and events such as decaying plants, volcanic eruptions and the respiration of animals, naturally release carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The cycle allows the carbon to be removed again by the atmosphere by photosynthesis in plants and dissolution in water and “the amount of naturally produced CO2 is almost perfectly balanced by the amount naturally removed,” however even the smallest change caused by human activity has a significant impact on this cycle and its maintaining of this balance.3 It is this change that has been causing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to increase, thus enhancing the greenhouse effect and slowly permanently
3. http://wwf.panda.org/ 4. http://www.biomassenergycentre.org.uk 5. http://wwf.panda.org/
changing the Earth’s climate system resulting in Climate Change. As the name suggests, fossil fuels are very old sources of energy. Most fossil fuels began to form over 200 million years ago, and although humans used fossil fuels in ancient times (as far back as the Iron Age), it was the Industrial Revolution during the 18th Century that led to their wide-scale extraction.4 Since then, humans have been burning sequestered carbon dioxide in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas in very large quantities. By burning fossil fuels, carbon dioxide that was removed from the atmosphere millions of years ago by animal and plant life unless stored or captured - is released, leading to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide isn’t the most potent greenhouse gas, nevertheless it is the main driver of the greenhouse effect, and the more carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere the more the layer of greenhouse gas is getting thicker, which is in turn making the Earth warmer, and causing the problem that is Climate Change.5 Our Nature and our Earth have to be valued and not destroyed. Being an ever increasing problem, from November 30 to December 12,
6. Climate Change impact: Muir Glacier melt, Alaska. 4. Pictures taken 114 years apart,1891 (left) and 2005 (right) 6. [source: http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/]
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2015, nearly 200 nations held a World Climate Summit in Paris with the largest gathering of heads of states in the history and approved an accord to stop global warming. Along with the issue of Climate Change using fossil fuels has many negative consequences of which the most aggravating environmental effects, health effects and economic effects. Environmental effects include the irreversible damage to the Ozone layer along with the risk of transporting vast quantities of oil via tankers that may destroy surrounding environments. The Health issues include the danger and adverse health effects that coal and gas miners risk, but also the ambient pollution from emission that endangers public health. The Economic effects regard the fact that fossil fuels are a finite resource and are also unpredictable, prone to long cycles of boom and bust. Climate Change is an ever increasing problem, nowadays finding a solution to counteract its effects is key in finding a sustainable lifestyle that may enable it to be slowed down and to find the earthâ€™s climate balance once again.
7. Climate Change impact: Drying Lake Urmia, Iran. 4. Drying at a rapid rate, the lake now covers about 10 % of 4. the area it covered in the 1970s 6. [source: http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/]
Nature for Design sustainable design
the intention to reduce or completely eliminate negative environmental impacts through thoughtful designs applied across all fields of design such as designing buildings or products.
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Bio Architecture is a movement for the design and construction of buildings whose layout and lines borrow from natural forms. It is an architectural movement that exploits and replicates the principles found in nature to create structures that benefit people and other living things. It’s study focuses on creating an environment to support life, redefining the function of architecture as a discipline which enables the creation of spaces which have a physically positive effect on living things. The philosophy involves reestablishing the harmony between living things like people and nature; in urban city environments bioarchitecture involves the design of buildings that integrate their space for plants and vegetation that act to improve people’s living environments. A recent project by Stefano Boeri developed the design of a building in the center of Milan that identifies the principle idea of the bio architecture movement; introducing the concept of a building garden in a very metropolitan city. The project called Bosco Verticale, or Vertical Forest, is a way to combine high-density residential development with tree planting in city centers. The concept reintegrates nature in the daily life of the people living in the building and in the area, a mixture of large and small trees have been planted on balconies
Design for Nature
on all four sides of the towers, accompanied by 5,000 shrubs and 11,000 floral plants.6 The design created with the aim of absorbing dust in the air, helps to depollute the city, but also aims to generate the bio architectural philosophy of reestablishing the natural harmony of a green living environment in people’s everyday city life.
8. Bosco Verticale (‘Vertical Forest’) by Boeri in Milan 9. Architectural drawings of Bosco Verticale
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Bio Architecture also applies a method called biomimicry, which is essentially the study of nature’s designs to mimic them to solve human challenges. Although it seems like a relatively recent style or movement, biomimicry has always been an important point of study to develop designs. This evidence comes from studying Leonardo Da Vinci’s works, whose main source of inspiration and source of education came from observing designs found in the natural world to develop sketches of his inventions and designs. A lot of other early inventors turned to nature for ideas and suggestions to further develop their projects, engineers such as the Wright brothers, who were two American aviation pioneers who are credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane, were known to have commonly observed birds to understand their ability of flying. Biomimicry advocates looking at nature in new ways to fully appreciate and understand how it can be used to help solve problems.7 Biomimetic Design concepts are born through the analysis and study of certain elements of nature that intrigue designers and scientists. Replicating forms and processes seen in nature, or being inspired by nature’s designs are all key
7. http://interfacedesignspace.com/ 8. http://www.techtimes.com/ 9. http://www.biomimetic-architecture.com/
elements of biomimicry. An interesting recent design was that of Elliot Hawkes, a Stanford University mechanical engineering student who developed gloves that have very similar scientific principles as found in the sticky toes of geckos.8 The new material is an adhesive which uses weak intermolecular attractive forces to be very sticky at one moment and not at the next, it was inspired by a gecko’s ability to climb vertical surfaces. The synthetic adhesive applied on the palm of the glove enable a person to climb on surfaces such as glass walls. Dutch designer Marieka Ratsma and Architect Kostika Spaho teamed up together to create an interesting experiment in biomimicry and fashion design. By developing a design that uses technology to which there is a deep analysis of the forces applied on a shape and then applying material efficiently only to necessary areas where it is needed for load bearing purposes.9 By doing the design of shoes, this concept results in a form that has an organic bone-like distribution resembling a bird’s beak.
Design for Nature
10. Biomimicry shoe drawings by Ratsma & Spaho 11. Composite Photograph of a bat flying 12. Leonardo da Vinci’s Flying Machine sketches 13. Setae found on the toes of a gecko 14. Elliot Hawkes wearing gecko gloves, climbing glass wall
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A research pursued as part of a MA dissertation in Emergent Technologies and Design at the Architectural Association, was developed by a San francisco design firm Matsys. The research explored integration strategies for industrially produced materials to be used in architectural applications and resulted in the Honeycomb Morphologies Project. Beehives and honeycombs found in nature inspired the system for this design, where the research developed a precise honeycomb system in the material that as the Matsys firm describes is able to “adapt to diverse performance requirements through he modulation of the system’s inherent geometric and material parameters while remaining within the limits of available production technologies,” their approach is biomimetic to be integrated to architectural design and fabrication.10 Architect Jacques Rougerie developed a architectural bionic concept shaped just like a sting ray. ‘City of Meriens’ is thought out to be an international oceanography university that would drift in the major ocean currents aiming to host students, teachers and researchers. It is a concept for a floating scientific city dedicated entirely to the study, observation and analysis of marine biodiversity. “Fully autonomous through
10. http://matsysdesign.com/ 11. http://www.designboom.com/ 12. http://www.archdaily.com/
the use of renewable marine energy, and respecting the principles of sustainable development with its zero waste program,” is how the project is presented and its whole design was influenced by the form and bodily disposition of a sting ray. The floating city could accommodate up to 7000 people divided on its project of several levels, and its dimensions; a total length of 900 meters and a width of 500 meters, a height of 60 meters and its lowest level at least 120 meters deep under water.11 A recent project inspired by a very prominent natural structure, was the 2015 EXPO Milan UK Pavilion. UK’s response to the EXPO theme ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ developed around the concept of a beehive and how new research and technology are helping to address food security and biodiversity. The Pavilion structure designed by the artist Wolfgang Buttress in collaboration with Tristan Simmonds and BDP architectural studio, mimics the form of a beehive and is wholly inspired to enable the visitor to “follow the dance of a bee” where the whole layout of the pavilion is planned to experience a natural journey through a series of landscapes. The entrance introduces the journey through an orchard, followed by a wildflower
Design for Nature
meadow and on to an impressive centerpiece: The Hive.12 The 14m cubed sculptural pavilion uses light and sound to simulate the activity of a real beehive, its light fittings and sound speakers vibrate, glow and pulsate representing the activity captured via an accelerometer within a real beehive in Nottingham.
15. X-Ray and drawing structure of Stingray 16. City of Meriens designed by Jacques Rougerie 17. Natural texture of a Beehive 18. The UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015
Sustainable Solutions renewable
a natural resource or source of energy that is not depleted by use, such as water, wind, or solar power.
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Maintaining a certain focus on the beneficial nature movements and philosophies, advance in technology enables the introduction of new possible solutions that can hopefully reverse or at least stop part of the damage our unsustainable methods are causing. In fact our main methods for the production and use of energy today are not sustainable, the most important fossil fuels which are oil, coal and gas are used to produce energy and being finite natural resources they are being depleted at a rapid rate. Furthermore their process to transform into energy is contributing to climate change and its negative implications. A solution to these unsustainable methods is to find alternative sources of energy, throughout history, technology has helped us evolve and discover how to take advantage of nature’s renewable resources like the sun, the wind and the ocean and other natural sources to generate the same electricity we make with the burning of fossil fuels. Renewable resources are such that will never run out, unlike fossil fuels. They are sources that could enable a 100% sustainable acquisition of energy and reduce carbon emissions. Currently, renewable sources account for only 13% of the world’s energy provision. This means we are consuming something that once depleted will be
finished, and cannot be renewed. WWF - one of the world’s largest and most experienced independent conservation organization - recently published ‘The Energy Report: 100% Renewable Energy by 2050’ in which they state their vision of “a world that is powered by 100% renewable energy resources by the middle of this century.” The report also presents the important problem of climate change, and states that unless this transition to a sustainable use of energy is taken, the world is most likely going to experience the escalating impacts of climate change. The following representative data depicted in this section, are images of predictions for 2050 if the world “goes 100% renewable” that WWF displayed in their Energy Report.
19. World map modified to have a visualization of the Globe with minimal continent distortion by WWF [source: The Energy Report - 100 % Renewable Energy by 2050]
20. Map showing the world’s Fossil Fuel and Renewable 20. Energy Potential [source: The Energy Report - 100 % Renewable Energy by 2050]
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There are seven types of renewable resources:
Solar Generated by: Solar Power Plant Wind Generated by: Wind Farm Biomass Generated by: Biofuels, Bioproducts
Hydrogen Generated by: Fuel Cells Geothermal Generated by: Geothermal Plant Ocean Generated by: Tidal waves, Thermal Hydropower Generated by: Hydropower Plant
13. Deng, Yvonne, Barney Jeffries, and Stephan Singer. The 13. Energy Report - 100 % Renewable Energy by 2050. 13. Gland: WWF International, 2011. PDF. Web.
Every second our sun produces enough energy to sustain Earth’s needs for 500,000 years.13 Sunlight is a renewable energy source and solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. The sunlight is captured thanks to solar panels that are composed of solar cells. The more light that hits a cell, the more electricity it produces. There are three main different types of solar panels; solar panels convert sunlight into usable energy, solar thermal panels use sunlight to heat water for washing and heating, while solar photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into electricity. The WWF Energy Report presented a map that shows the world’s solar potential, the world map is modified to have a visualization of the Globe with minimal continent distortion, the image however is excellent proof that by using solar technological means energy could become 100% sustainable. The same report states that “in one 40 minute period, the solar energy that hits the Earth could fulfill all human energy demands for a year,”13 putting this statement into perspective can make many understand how much better it could be for the world to ‘go solar’ instead of continuing its unsustainable consumption of fossil fuels. Solar
power and the use of solar cells or photovoltaic cells have an ever increasing demand in modern society where care for a sustainable community is being encouraged. New design concepts integrating solar panels are becoming a modern integration in everyday life, the positive trend is inspiring more and more designers to do as such and new ideas and sustainable ways of living are being introduced. The technology is mainly being inserted in architectural structures like houses or buildings, where the solar panels power with electricity the whole building’s interior as well as maintaining an ideal interior temperature by cooling or heating with the power generated.
21. Global potential of solar power and heat in 2010, and predicted for the years 2030 and 2050 [source: The Energy Report - 100 % Renewable Energy by 2050]
22. Map showing the world’s Solar Energy Potential [source: The Energy Report - 100 % Renewable Energy by 2050]
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The advantage of inserting solar power as an electrical source in a household not only is a more eco-friendly action to take, but the energy produced replaces the energy coming in from the grid and enables families to save a lot of electrical billing money. Solar power technology is ever developing and since its first invention has been designed to be even smaller scale allowing the cells to be inserted into smaller scale products and innovative designs. This integration is enabling products to live independently from electricity, with the photovoltaic cells producing their own energy, and encouraging an ever more sustainable lifestyle. Smaller scale products including desk lamps and low energy requiring objects, as well as products like charging bases for smart phones in a city are a few examples of the innovative projects that are being introduced and used around the world. The design called Street Charge was launched in New York City intended for “high foot traffic areas” and equipped with different kind of smart phone chargers.14 The product concept is focused on energy being available for anyone outdoors, its objective might be in favor of busy people walking around the city, nevertheless it provides sustainable energy produced by its
14. http://www.treehugger.com/ 15. http://www.independent.co.uk/
solar panels and enables the users to understand how accessible solar power really is. Another very interesting solar design approach is the Volvo prototype of a new design to recharge their electric cars. Los Angeles office Synthesis Design + Architecture created the pavilion for the Volvo car brand to showcase its new electric hybrid V60 car during a promotional tour of Italy. The design presents a ‘solar pavilion’ which is a tensile membrane of solar panels that expands like a pop-up tent to recharge the car.15 (independent) The membrane charger is held in tension by a single carbon-fibre tube and the curves of photovoltaic panels ensure that the sun’s rays are caught from every direction. This prototype is an innovative solution to keep electric cars on the road and is also a source of inspiration for future designers to find alternative ideas to make use of renewable resources in their designs. Architects are stretching the limits of solar technology, and it’s becoming increasingly important for the homes, buildings, stadiums, skyscrapers and cities of the future to be energyindependent and sustainable. In the field of architecture solar panels have been integrated to buildings by being applied on their facades and
23. NRG Street Charge Solar Charging Stations 22. NRG Street Charge Station close up 25. Plan and sections of Volvo Pure Tension Pavilion design 26. Presentation of Volvo Pure Tension Pavilion
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powering their electricity, new projects involve the concept of not only creating energy for the building itself but creating more energy than it consumes, hence the excess energy is usable for nearby structures. A new architectural solar design is the Solar City Tower designed specially for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a massive energy-generating waterfall located on Cotunduba Island in Brazil. Designed by RAFAA Architecture and Design it includes an impressive incorporation of renewable energies. The design will represent Rioâ€™s efforts to make the 2016 Summer Games the first zero-carbon footprint games in history. The structure is composed of a layer of solar panels, and the power generated by these will produce energy for the whole Olympic village during the day, then pump seawater during the night. The water taken from the sea will be released to drive turbines and can also be pumped over the top of the building to create a breathtaking wall of water. RAFAA studio depicts their design by saying, â€œthis project represents a message of a society facing the future; thus, it is the representation of an inner attitude.â€?16 Other Architectures not only include solar power but have the insertion of rain collecting
technology to collect water to distribute in the structures, decreasing the demand for energy to pump the water through the building as well as saving water, even the possibility of wind turbines generating wind energy that can electrify the structure, either providing singularly or adding onto to the solar power provided. Wind Energy is electrical energy obtained from harnessing the wind with windmills or wind turbines. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. There are two main types of wind turbines which include the group of the horizontal-axis variety, which reflects the same aesthetic as a common farm windmill, and the second type, named after the French inventor Georges Jean Marie Darrieus, have a vertical-axis design. The two groups do however collect and generate the energy in the same way, by taking in the wind to turn their blades which converts the kinetic to mechanical to electrical through a generator. Wind Power is usually diffused by developing wind farms, which are vast fields covered by many windmills - usually the horizontal-axis kind - that pass the energy to generators to be distributed. The farms can be laid onshore, in fields in agricultural areas outside cities, and
27. Solar City Tower by RAFAA Architecture and Design
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offshore in the middle of seas and oceans, where wind flow patterns in the atmosphere are strongest. The WFF states that, “wind power currently supplies around 2% of global electricity demand, with capacity more than doubling in the last four years.”17 Wind power potential is much greater than would would expect. Wind power installations have been increasing, and architects and engineers are finding new ways to integrate wind turbines directly in the cities, seeings as most wind power comes from countryside areas and the ocean. To integrate wind turbines in architecture, the Oppenheim Architecture + Design studio developed an ambitious project to design the first sustainable mixed-use condominium in Miami. The building, called COR, integrates sustainable technologies of which wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, and solar hot water generation. The building’s facade is what enables it to be 100% sustainably efficient. It’s exoskeleton, described as hyper-efficient, provides thermal mass for insulation, shading for the interiors, and architectural terraces that support the wind turbines that generate the efficient electricity.18 As described by the creators, COR represents “a dynamic synergy between architecture,
17. Deng, Yvonne, Barney Jeffries, and Stephan Singer. The 13. Energy Report - 100 % Renewable Energy by 2050. 13. Gland: WWF International, 2011. PDF. Web 18. http://oppenoffice.com/ 19. Krauel, Jacobo, and Jay Noden. “Vincent Callebaut 19. Architectures.” Urban Spaces: Environments for the 19. Future. Barcelona, Spain: Links, 2009. 78. Print.
structural engineering and ecology,” and its integration of wind turbines strengthens the notion of changing our ideal architectures to designs that adapt a full sustainable structure. An example of an archite ctural design integrating the vertical-axis type wind turbines is the Bionic Arch, a sustainable tower designed for Taichung in Taiwan in 2011. Developed for an International Architecture Competition by Vincent Callebaut. The competition was launched because of taiwan’s high quantity of city carbon and pollution, Callebaut’s design was the ‘greenest’ sustainable concept proposed; a tower of many facades and vertical gardens, and not only it provides a notion of bio architecture but was also designed in such a way to produce its own energy. A 100% self sufficient energy generator due to its integration of bio, solar and wind energy sources.19 Research and technology have enabled the substitution of unsustainable energy sources with sustainable ones. Although governments and nations can take some action upon these decision, it is also important to look a the notion individually. A less architectural, engineering and technological solution is that done through information and visual impact.
28. Global potential of wind power in 2010, and predicted for the years 2030 and 2050 [source: The Energy Report - 100 % Renewable Energy by 2050]
29. COR by Oppenheim Architecture + Design studio 30. Architectural details of the Bionic Arch 31. Bionic Arch by Vincent Callebaut
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Visual communication by diffusing the warning of climate change through posters, advertisements and video commercials are a direct way of implicating an individual to take action against climate change. Individual action means that a single person takes care of their own individual environment, especially taking care of reducing their own consumption and negative contributions, therefore reducing their own carbon footprint. Proof that people are motivated to make a difference was seen during the 2016 Earth hour event on March 19th. Earth hour started in 2007 as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia. It is a worldwide movement uniting people to protect the planet, organized by WWF. It engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues and inspires everyone to follow through the movement to turn off their lights from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm during that evening. By following through this trend, cities inspire families to be conscious of their consumption at least during that hour, and turns out to be a very important message done through a simple action. These type of events, if advertised
31. Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge 32. Sydney ‘off’ during Earth Hour of March 19th 2016 33. London’s Big Ben 34. London ‘off’ during Earth Hour of March 19th 2016
amount of energy consumed in a process or system, or by an organization or society.
One of the primary causes of excessive carbon emissions in the atmosphere is energy. Most of the energy in question is that which is produced by fossil fuels, hence it’s negative contribution to climate change. Global Energy data established by the International Energy Agency stated that, “greenhouse-gas emissions from the energy sector represent roughly twothirds of all anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions and CO2 emissions from the sector have risen over the past century to ever higher levels.”19 The data portrayed in the following graphs show how much more the sector of power generation and energy supply contributes to the exponential growth of greenhouse emissions in the atmosphere compared to the other sectors. The graphs present carbon emission data recorded in 2007 and in 2012, the sectors divided by the main contributors that are energy supply, transportation, industry, agriculture and general waste. In just a 5 year period it is visible how much energy-related CO2 emissions have increased exponentially due to the energy supply sector. The International Energy Agency states that “effective action in the energy sector is, consequently, essential to tackling the climate change problem.”20
20. “World Energy Outlook Special Report 2015: Energy and 18. Climate Change.” PDF. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.
35. Graphs showing annual global percentage of carbon 35. emissions divided by sector, in 2007 (left) and 2012 (right) 35. [source: IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change]
Understanding one’s own actions towards the negative implications of energy consumption can do a lot for proper considerations of future actions and what to do as an individual to fight the problem. In the world, carbon emissions aren’t equally spread by each continent, there are areas where carbon emissions are much higher than in other areas. The most energy consuming countries are listed in the CIA’s World Factbook, of which the top 3 energy consuming areas are China, United States and Europe. Their energy consumption measured in kilowatt-hours is useful to understand how the use of energy is spread throughout the world, and to know which areas are most critical to target for encouraging energy efficiency. A type of map of this data was created by interactive media designer Robbie Tilton, who highlights the disparities in emissions across the globe from 2006 to 2010 with an online 3D visualization. The 3D globe is called Emissions Globe and the options of visualizing data from 2006 up until 2010 are important to communicate how carbon emissions have been increasing exponentially found at http://www.emissionsglobe.com. This is just another example of how media can help broadcast the message of how overlooking
energy consumption is impacting our Earth negatively, and knowing how much the impact is can help individuals change small elements of their lifestyle. Cities across the globe are trying to develop plans to cut down their energy consumption and lower their carbon footprint by reducing the associated greenhouse gas emissions. Initial efforts include transforming the individual buildings of the city to adapt to sustainable methods by incorporating more energy efficient lighting, windows, and building systems. A study by Columbia University Engineering School was developed in order to help urban planners, policy makers, architects and engineers understand the local dynamics of building energy use in New York City. The study’s aim focused on entering the average New Yorker’s life with energy efficiency facts and as said by the lead author - ph.D. mechanical engineering student - Bianca Howard in an interview, “placing their energy consumption in the context of other New Yorkers. Just knowing about your own consumption can change your entire perspective.”21 The study produced a map, published on November 7, 2011, presenting the city where over two-thirds of the energy consumption is from buildings, and enabling the
problem of energy consumption to be clear to anyone who came across it. Maps presenting worldwide data as well as specific city energy consumption representations are important to broadcast general information to express lack of attention towards the energy problem, maps might impact an individual enough to change
a few small things in everyday life to decrease carbon emission in their own area; hence a larger focus should be give to the environment of an individual rather than a whole city. Knowledge of one’s own household consumption is the first step to “making a difference” and changing these unsustainable habits.
36. Screenshot of http://www.emissionsglobe.com 35. designed by Robbie Tilton, showing a 3D graphical 35.representation of carbon emission spread out on a globe
37. Screenshots of http://sel.columbia.edu/nycenergy 37. The map representing the total annual building energy 37. consumption in New York City, developed by the study
Watts are a measurement of power, describing the rate at which electricity is being used at a specific moment. Watt-hours are a measurement of energy, describing the total amount of electricity used over time. Watt-hours are a combination of how fast the electricity is used (watts) and the length of time it is used (hours). The CIA World Factbook expressed each country’s or continent’s electricity consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh). To achieve this data, different energy sectors of the area were considered, the energy consumption compares total electricity generated annually with the addition of imports and subtraction of exports, the collection of information dates from 2012 to 2014. The top three most consuming consist of China’s electricity consumption being the most up to 5,523,000,000,000 kWh, the United States consuming up to 3,832,000,000,000 kWh and the European Union up to 2,771,000,000,000. Summing all the electricity consumption results in the World’s electricity consumption at around 19,320,360,620 MWh/y (Megawatts-hour per year).22 Seeing as renewable energies are doing their part in being introduced in nations as alternative energy sources, the issue still persists; its simple
problem is that people are not informed and do not do much to stop what is otherwise very serious; in terms of design thinking the problem should be considered on a much smaller scale; having started by understanding the science behind the problem, researching values of the World’s consumption, then a Nation’s, it is more effective to analyze directly upon the individual person; up to a single household’s consumption. The artist Vincent Van Gogh once said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together,” a smaller scale solution means going from finding solutions to solve our world all at once, to finding a solution to be integrated in an individual’s life, so that they can take part together to solving the problem. A household energy consumption can depend upon certain type of electrical appliances placed inside, the yearly season, the time the electrical component is in use as well as the electricity it takes in while in “standby” mode. Standby refers to the electric power consumed by electronic and electrical appliances while they are switched off but plugged in to an electric outlet. Standby power is also referred to as ‘phantom load’ because it consumes electricity that is not necessary in that moment. Although using a
38. Visual representation of how energy is divided by 28. appliances and functions in a standard house
23. http://www.economist.com/ 24. *Hierzinger, Roland, AEA, and Juraj Krivošík.“Comparison 22. of Energy Efficiency Requirements of the Energy Labels 22. and Ecodesign Legislations.” Intelligent Energy Europe 22. Programme, June 2012. PDF. Web.
39. Comparison of the energy efficiency classes in energy 39. labelling and ecodesign requirements 39. [source: Comparison of energy labels and ecodesign legislations article] * 40. EU energy labels for different household appliances
energy label for a television:
energy label for a refrigerator:
energy label for a dishwasher:
and other products is method for consumers to know of the products energy efficiency as well as other functional performance qualities of models and advice of models better for purchase. The purpose of energy labels is to rank all models of certain type of products within certain energy class range, typically from A to G, or A+++ to D and show this ranking at the points of sale. A part of the labelling that is not ‘visible’ to consumers is the Ecodesign measures; another set of EU legislation that regulates the energy consumption of products. This characteristic is not ‘visible’ as products entering the market must automatically comply with the relevant requirements. According to the ecodesign regulations, each category of appliance has a minimum energy efficiency class to respect; like in the case of a washing machine, only models belonging to energy efficiency class A and better can enter the market since December 2011. In the following labels the red line designates that minimum energy class value, and electrical appliances whose energy efficiency class classifies below the red line is restricted on the market by ecodesign regulations.24
energy label for a washing machine:
standby option for a device is useful in that it can be instantly turned on or activated with a remote control, stand by mode’s major disadvantage is that it consumes electricity. Standby power makes up a portion of homes’ miscellaneous electric load, which also includes small appliances, security systems, and other small power draw; like energy leaking from power outlets. It is said to account for about 10% of a typical household’s electrical energy consumption. For example a microwave oven consumes more energy to power its digital clock than it consumes when it is in use for heating food; while heating food can require more than 100 times as much power as the digital clock requires, being in “standby” mode makes the clock be switched on more than 99% of the time and commuting the power consumption in the long run adds up to be more required than heating the food.23 Simple measures can be taken to change the impacting extra power consumption and also increased energy bills, household members can simply switch off their devices when not in use or find electrical appliances with energy efficiency characteristics. Energy efficiency characteristics are displayed at the sale of a product, in Europe, using EU Energy labelling of major appliances
It is important to understand how much each piece of a household is consuming, each electrical appliance consumes different amounts of energy, although their necessary use has be considered; for example a washing machine isnâ€™t used everyday, whereas a television might be used more regularly and a refrigerator switched on at all times. The following data represents typical household appliances and objects that use electricity, measured in watts and how much CO2 their consumption generates by the hour measured in grams. The data was collected by informagiovaniitalia.com, an Italian web service that gives information and support in certain sectors, for example the energy consumption sector, which inform Italians of their household appliances consumption and their impact by carbon emissions. The diagram beside it represents the yearly energy household consumption of a family of 3 to 4 people. Data of both the diagram and the table are taken from italian energy consumption database websites; so they represent standard Italian households and their energy consumption.
It is important to understand how much each piece of a household is consuming, each electrical appliance consumes different amounts of energy, although their necessary use has be considered; for example a washing machine isnâ€™t used everyday, whereas a television might be used more regularly and a refrigerator switched on at all times. The following data represents typical household appliances and objects that use electricity, measured in watts and how much CO2 their consumption generates by the hour measured in grams. The data was collected by informagiovaniitalia.com, an Italian web service that gives information and support in certain sectors, for example the energy consumption sector, which inform Italians of their household appliances consumption and their impact by carbon emissions.
41. Table representing the daily energy consumption and 41.carbon emission value of average household appliances 41. [source: http://www.informagiovani-italia.com/] 42. Visual representation of an average household energy 42. consumption per year of a family of 3/4 persons 42. [source: http://www.casaecologica.net/]
Smart Home Technology smart home
a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
Smart home technology has been a feature of science fiction writing and films for many years. With the insertion of electricity in homes, connecting networks and the rapid modern advance of information technology, the possibility to control household services was introduced to better the monitoring of consumption as well as managing appliances with much more practicality. Smart homes use technologies that provide automation of appliances in the household, as well as providing the home owner with feedback and information referring to general household activities and necessities in order to control the appliances more efficiently and have an organized daily routine. For example the refrigerator of a house may be able to catalogue its contents, suggest menus, recommend healthy alternatives and inform the user that foods are being used up and must be replaced. A smart home is able to inform the user of additional information that helps remind the execution of activities that might be forgotten, seemingly overlooked actions such as watering the plants, or feeding a pet. Smart home technologies are becoming more and more advanced and the range of different products available is expanding rapidly along with developments in computer
Smart Home Technology
controls and sensors. The necessity to install home automation systems today has become an expected action while entering a new home as we develop into a better future. As design takes this technology into its hands, the purpose of having automation systems has moved towards different causes motivated by economic savings, as well as providing knowledge of what the household consumes and using proper control and monitoring to reduce household carbon emissions that contribute to the global climate change problem.
43. Diagram representing the Smart Home concept 44. Openarch, a real prototype of a smart home developed 44. by Think Big Factory: incorporates a digital layer 44. connecting the house and its elements to the Internet 45. Wink Relay, a touchscreen smart home controller 45. It uses the Wink app, available also on smartphone.
Electronics companies have been integrating these technologies into their products, with the idea to introduce new additional products to create a ‘smart home line’ that would make a user buy all the products necessary to be able to control the house and monitor it efficiently. Sony’s newest light design is the multifunctional light that will release in Japan in the first half of 2016, the light not only illuminates but acts like a smart home hub. The bulb has temperature and humidity sensors, which are used to control heating and cooling. It has included presence sensing to turn off appliances when a person leaves a room. Having this function allows for an increased reduced energy consumption, and has positive results for the user’s energy bill as well as negative implications to the environment. An integrated microphone and speaker allows the bulb to act as a communication system. Sony has been noted to be creative for developing what could have been a simple smart hub into an actual functional object like a light. Looking at its efficiency is equally impressive: the entire fixture uses less energy that a 60-watt light bulb: between 42- and 53 watts for the light fixture, and an additional five watts for the control unit that is screwed into the center.25
Smart Home Technology
QR code to Sony Multifunctional Light video:
46. Screenshots of the Sony Multifunctional Light video 46. showings it’s different features; communicaton (top right), 46. position sensors reducing unnecessary energy (bottom). 46. QR code featured to direct to the video link
Smart Home Technology
Samsung Electronics Company introduced their own Smart Home Concept, in a video portraying how a family can control appliances even if outside the house; from the office the user can activate an appliances to favor time management; for example it is a common action to activate the washing machine before leaving the house, later having come home turning it off and getting the washed clothes, by doing this the washing machine stays on for many hours and consumes electricity, the possibility of activating it from outside the house consumes less energy as the user can set the activation for the appliance to be done by the time they reach home. As well as activating electrical appliances, the user can control the household temperature system to warm or cool the house. This Smart Home concept however includes necessary appliances like smart air conditioners, washing machines or even robot vacuum cleaners that have the particular technology to connect to a phone and with the use of an app the user can activate them from anywhere on their phone. The app can offer a lot of other information as well; making the user aware of their consumption. 47
QR code to Samsungâ€™s Smart Home video:
47. Samsung Smart Home app 48. Screenshots of the Samsung Smart Home app and its 48. system; showing the management of household 48. appliances from the app outside the house 48. QR code featured to direct to the video link
In fact a regular product in the house of which there is proper control over is a thermostat, setting times of activation and setting temperatures has always been a regular activity while using a thermostat. With the addition of temperature sensitive sensors, new thermostats have been introduced that make sure a room is at the ideal temperature throughout a whole day. This prevents the consumption of excessive energy in over-heating or over-cooling. Having a display, adding additional monitoring elements to the thermostat controls was found to be simpler. Monitoring elements such as making sure the heating system is not activating when unnecessary, as well as using the display to catalogue all other compatible appliances and being able to monitor them as well through the interface. An added connection to a smartphone, advantages the user to monitor the smart home even outdoors. An evidently new product is the Nest thermostat, Nest Labs was created to build products that change the use regular household tech, with an immediate focus on efficiency, safety, and ease of use. The particularity of the Nest thermostat is that it learns from the user as the user understand and uses its technology, it remembers
user inputs and eventually will start working automatically preventing the user from manually changing settings, using contextual clues to make changes that the user might not even be aware of; for example when it gets a little colder outside, the user will tend to increase the thermostat temperature; Nest would memories this pattern or by taking in account the user’s ZIP code and location monitors temperature changes outside for changes inside.26 Smart Home devices and Apps are increasingly becoming a part of our lives. Smart thermostats, hubs and other devices can be accompanied by apps; designed to run on a user’s device, like a smartphone or tablet, to perform a specific function. These can connect to a physical device connected to the home that through the app’s interface communicates certain information to the user, as well as enabling commands and monitoring over the device’s functions. Apps can also be individually used, however less precise as the user has the job to insert the house data. Many Smart Home products today are generally accompanied by apps, like another thermostat device, the ecobee. The device; an interface itself informs the user, but can also be connected to other devices like tablets or smartphones.
49. ecobee thermostat, Smart Home interface and sensor 50. ecobee app displayed on smartphone and tablet 51. Nest thermostat presented in different situations 52. Nest thermostat designed by Nest Labs
Smart Home Technology
Light Sources light
the form of energy that makes it possible to see things : the brightness produced by the sun, by fire, a lamp, etc.
Lighting design varies between architectural lighting design which one could infer that architectural lighting is meant to last for a substantial period of time, to theatrical lighting which are evidently temporary, to lighting installations that can include interaction in large public spaces to communicate massages to simply act as a form of art expression. At its core, lighting is about creating a sense of place and atmosphere using light as the main medium of expression. Lighting is not only our means for illumination, but lighting is a means of expression and communication. The simplest example being a normal traffic light, projecting green light to communicate ‘Go’ and to oppose it, a red light to express ‘Stop’. Design plays with lighting in different ways, either by using obstacles to direction or diffuse natural light from the sun in a particular way; or designing new intriguing shapes for lamps that diffuse an artificial light in a particular. An interesting type of lighting that has been growing in popularity however is recessed lighting. Recessed lighting is particular in that being included as a part of the structure of an interior, it can illuminate, decorate or give value to a particular wall, corner, floor or ceiling.
53. Flurry by LUUM; segmented curved sections of 53. illuminated aluminium to create a whirlpool effect 54. Light installation by Austrian-born artist Erwin Redl 55. FormaLa composition by Cini&Nils light design company 56. Recessed Wall lights presentation by Panzeri company
Light sources can differ, starting with the archetypal bulb; invented by Joseph Swan in 1878 and later improved by Thomas Edison, its advantages are that it is a low cost bulb and is simple to use however has low efficiency (luminous output/watt), a short life (approximately 1,000 hours) and emits heat.27 The halogen incandescent lamp made with carbon filament lamp using chlorine to prevent darkening of the envelope was patented in 1882, arriving to the patenting of the light bulb - a practical lamp using iodine - in use today, patented in 1959 by the General Electric company. The advantages of the halogen light are that it has a longer lifetime, luminous efficiency and ELV (extra low voltage) is possible, however this means that ELV involves the sue of transformers, generating high temperatures and increasing possible fire risk. Another type of light source is the sodium/mercury discharge light bulbs that were invented in 1901, their high points are the durability and that they can be for external use especially due to their high light output; nevertheless they are expensive and need special treatment for recycling, as well as having a poor CRI (Colour Rendering Index) or color rendering. The standard fluorescent lamp was developed for commercial use
27. Kula, Daniel, Elodie Ternaux, Quentin Hirsinger,
25. Maroussia Jannelle, and Benjamin Gomez. 25. Materiology: The Creatives Guide to Materials 25. and Technologies. 2014.
during the 1930’s. The idea of the fluorescent lamp had been around since the 1880’s however it took steady work over the decades to finally create a working commercially viable model. Advantages of the fluorescent lamp or the neon are its long life, reduced maintenance, wide color temperature ranges, a great diversity of form and their low power consumption however they can be expensive and their ignition time is very slow. Lastly the most efficient light source: the lightemitting diode - most commonly referred to as LED - was created in 1962 by Nick Holonyak in a GEC research laboratory in New York. The first LEDs emitted infrared light, as small indicator lights on remote controls or electrical devices. “Their advantages could bring a genuine revolution in the lighting domain,” they consume very little energy, can last more or less 10 years and their maintenance is almost nonexistent, they have very low voltage hence almost no heating effect thus not being a safety hazard at all.25 They can be a little more expensive than other light sources but are much more advantageous and have the possibility to be RGB; an additive color model in which red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. Recent developments
have introduce OLEDs that are Organic Electroluminescent Diodes, consisting of superimposed layers of organic semiconductor materials, making the light source much more sustainable.
57. Truline plaster-in LED system by Pure Lighting 58. “Through Hollow Lands”, a geometric light installation of 58. 200 Fluorescent Tubes, by art duo Lilenthal - Zamora 59. Dynamische Lichtwelle, largest OLED installation in 59. Germany with 1,500 OLED discs by Eike Becker studio
Light has its many uses, light as a mood creator has always been an idea of environments to be characterized by certain situations, where it be a group of friends chatting in the living room the light could be dimmed for better ambience; or a family watching a movie together the lights could be dimmed to their minimum as a type of cinema mode. Light dimmers are one thing, but integrating colour to one’s environment designates pleasant moods for the adequate situation. The Electronics company Phillips introduced a system called Phillips Hue, by being able to control all the lights in one’s home (whether indoors or outdoors) a way for users to colour their rooms to create their wanted atmosphere. The collection includes low consumption light bulbs, light strips and lamps to place wherever in ones home and to be controlled collectively through an interface or smartphone. Many apps have been designed to be compatible with the lights, and some are characterized by images setting moods; like rainforests colour the light hues of a calming green, or ocean images turn the lights a relaxing blue to create a smooth atmosphere; in other cases the apps are displayed more functionally allowing the user to choose a specific light in specific rooms to select a hue from a simple colour spectrum.
QR code to Phillips “Turn on Living” video:
60. Hue Camera for Philips Hue app by Erwin Zwart 61. Phillips Hue “Turn on Living” display picture 48. QR code featured to direct to the video link
Product Concept concept
an abstract idea; a plan or intention
The research and analysis carried out, induced the need for a product that any home can include in its walls, to create a dialogue between a user and a product, in order to properly inform the user of their household energy consumption. This project idea starts with the notion of considering a network - a home can be thought of as a system of nerves that sends necessary information from one point to another delivering to its inhabitants their required water and energy. Seeing as every cable, pipe and wire in a home is connected, from a single energy outlet it is possible to acquire information of how much energy the house is consuming in that moment. The project’s functional objective would be communication to the user. The value of the product would be its use of light as a means of communication. As mentioned before, light can be used as a means for expression and communication; like a traffic light as a worldwide reference turns red to signal to stop and green to signal to proceed, this product communicates in the same way: through colours. Knowledge of a home’s energy consumption can help the user reduce their home’s carbon emissions, by assuming there will be more attention to not consuming additional and unnecessary energy.
The light would act as a physical interpreter of the consumption, however for further details the light can be linked to a smartphone through an app. The app can communicate values of energy consumed, as well as information on spendings or carbon emissions. Research of forms and types of product light designs led to understanding that modularity and simplicity is key for an object that can act as a smart home device and be subtly present in our surroundings to remind us to be careful of what we consume. 64
62. Graphic of the idea of a home as a network of information 63. Trim Profile in extruded aluminum by Panzer company 64. Kangaroo Light by Studio Banana Things 65. Reading room of the Investcorp Building by Zaha Hadid
As mentioned previously, a home is a network; every cable, pipe and wire is connected. The idea of the project developed on this knowledge; to be aware of a household consumption there needs to be a source of the information. Standard households usually have one electricity main, hence one electrical panel that powers all power outlets in the house. In some cases households may have two panels, although it would communicate two different means of information; the function wouldnâ€™t be restricted so it would not be a limitation. Each appliance, device or lighting connected to the electrical panel has a certain footprint, a particular consumption and specific power requirement to function. New prototyping technologies have increased the possibilities in smart home tech; arduino is an open-source hardware that is linked to open-source software, includes micro-controller kits for building digital devices and interactive objects that can sense and control physical devices. Arduino is what could integrate the possibility of connectivity and function to the product. The arduino would be programmed to take any information and communicate it through its transmitters, through wifi or bluetooth to any interface or object.
66. Diagram showing how a standard household electrical 66. main, is connected to all energy outlets powering 66. appliances, lights and other devices
The project is composed of three important elements; a transmitter plug, an app and a light device. The transmitter plug is the element which connects to the homeâ€™s network, by being plugged in to any power outlet it would acquire all the information of consumption of the whole panel through hardware programming and sensors. The data acquired by the plug would be sent via the home network which would connect to global internet data and can be accessed through the app. The final element, the light device is fundamental, having a physical and visual presence of communication is important. The light device communicates that which is stated in the app but through colours; referring to a colour spectrum to communicate the householdâ€™s energy consumption. In order to not be an additional source of energy consumption in the home, the light product uses the lowest consuming light source available, a LED strip and would only activate when the light has to warn the user of an excess of energy being used. The app would have functions that can personalize data acquisition and could also personalize the particular energy consumption of the light device; so changing its activation when a user would like to be informed.
67. Diagram displaying how the product concept works, 67. a device with integrated smart sensors is connected 67. through any power outlet or plug to the electrical main 67. that communicates all electrical household information
App Development app
a self-contained program or piece of software designed to fulfil a particular purpose; an application, especially as downloaded by a user to a mobile device.
Having established that the most important factor to implement in the individual action to reduce energy consumption is information, the fastest and easiest way to communicate information is through smartphones; used on an hourly basis during our day. Developing an app that can tell you how much you are consuming can accompany the light product that act’s as the apps physical communication. Apps tend to be powerful through their use of evocative imagery and short phrases. These can raise the user’s awareness and encourage more care for one’s actions and more care for the environment. After installing the app, the user is welcomed by being involved in the issue; a quote by Mahatma Ghandi points out that that man has taken advantage of Earth, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” The quote introduces the user to the problem, a second slide depicts that Global Warming is harming the environment, however there is a chance that this could change; that Global Warming could slow down, the third slide presents the project’s solution; to make a small change in one’s life, to make a bigger change to stop hurting the environment. 68
68. Upon installation; first welcome slide featuring a quote 69. Second welcome slide defining the purpose 70. Third welcome slide encourages user to “start” the app
Once inside the app, the user inserts their account information, like their name, an email and password and information of the house. Energy consumption can differ according to home dimensions and household members. Dimensions are important as a small loft apartment wouldn’t have the same amount of power outlets as a house with 5 rooms, the consumption of the latter would be higher; more appliances used, constantly connected in standby and outlet energy ‘leaks’. The number of household members is important as a single person wouldn’t consume the same amount of energy as a family of 4. These elements help define the colour frame of the light. Seeing as an average household consumption is around 40kWh,28 the colour scheme of the light and the app will turn red once the value of energy consumption is about to reach that value. Once connected to the electrical panel, the product system will recognize an average pattern in the period of a few days, as the pattern is established the consumption and colour frame will be personalized to the home. The product and app will encourage the decrease of the consumption so will warn the user of excessive energy consumption before the average is reached.
28. Value defined by calculating the average consumption of 26. an italian household using data presented in the table of 26. http://www.informagiovani-italia.com/
71. “Manage your energy” by Loging in or Signing up 72. Account information insertion, including household 72. information like dimensions and family members 73. Connection to light devices placed in household
The main page and home screen of the app is the household consumption of the day up to the moment the app is opened. Every 24 hours the device starts recording the energy consumption from 0, an obvious start to the day and the default settings of the app would be from early morning hours like 4 or 5 AM; the user has the possibility to change this setting and define their own 24 hour window, according to personal preferences and habits. Once the app is opened the user is directly informed of their consumption from their start of the day - so the beginning of the 24 hour window - up to the moment the user is in the app. The same home screen has three slides, the central and main slide being the consumption of the day, called ‘Today’, sliding left would take the user the the ‘Yesterday’ page showing the total energy consumed the previous day during the 24 hour window, and the third page being the immediate consumption in that precise moment; can be low or high depending on how many appliances, lights and devices are using power in that exact moment. The colour scheme follows a colour spectrum from blue (around 200Wh of energy consumed) to red (above 35kWh of energy consumed) and colours according to the data registered by the device in that moment.
74. Example showing energy data from ‘yesterday’ 75. Example showing energy data ‘today’, starting from early 75. hours of the day up to ‘now’ (24h settings costumizable) 76. Example showing energy being consumed ‘now’
Other important information provided by the app is the energy data. The user can see how much energy their household has consumed in the last few weeks all together on the data page, the system also calculates the household’s daily average energy consumption and communicates it on this page. Beside the average value is the graphic representation, colour according tot he consumption. The user has the possibility to access a calendar and select any day that the device was in function to see the particular day’s energy consumption data. The graph shows the progression of that day’s energy permitting the user to slide right and left on the graph to see the different hours of that day. The calendar has the characteristic of showing a slight colour tone to each day, so that before selecting the chosen day, there is a colour representing the average consumption of that day.
77. Example showing monthy energy consumption data 78. Example showing possibility to select any day 78. from a calendar to see its data 79. Example showing data after having selected a day
Other useful information that the app provides is financial spendings of the energy consumption, carbon emission values emitted by the particular household and also to inform the user and increase their awareness of how much electrical appliances consume in the house. The advantage of knowing how much money household energy consumption costs, encourages the user to reduce their consumption and increase their economical savings; the value given in the app is calculated through the formula â‚Ź = 1 kWh x 0,18. For example if a person consumes 35kWh in a day, the formula to define the cost would be 35kWh x 0,18, which would sum up to 28 â‚Ź29 the user would have spent that particular day. The carbon emissions page is important because it gives the user an idea of how many kilograms of carbon their household emits in the atmosphere. Putting this into a value evokes sensibility, and knowing how much actual measure impact on has on the environment is important to know, to be able to make changes. The formula that generates the value of the carbon emissions is 1 kWh x 650 grams, the result is in grams, taking the previous example, 35kWh x 650, the total amount of carbon emissions released in the atmosphere that day would be 22,750 grams.29
29. Both formulas are taken from an italian energy 27. consumption database http://www.casaecologica.net/
80. Example showing cost of energy being consumed 81. Example showing amount of carbon emissions being 81. released in the atmosphere by household 82. A list of standard household appliances informing user of 82.their consumptionâ€™s carbon emissions
The product has the ability to be personalized. The setting pages offers the chance to modify account information, like changing an email address or changing the number of household members present in the home. Another function is the time activation; this involves personalizing the 24 hour window mentioned previously; the user can adapt the information provided by the app through a time period of their choice, choosing when their day would start. The light pulsation settings refers to the function of the light device. The light communicates consumption through colour, by reflecting the idea that the home is a body of cables and “veins” the light communication pulsates, also to attract more attention, its dynamic pulsations would be more captivating as a reminder. The pulsations can be slowed down or speeded up slightly according to user preferences. Another option to be modified is the colour settings, so choosing - according to personal household consumption - the right colour scheme for the light to communicate. The last two are informative pages, one involving instructions and educating the user on how the product works, and the other points out the goals of the project; to reduce carbon emissions and slow down Climate Change.
83. Settings page, to modify or costumise certain functions 84. Instructions page, describing how the energy aura system 84. works and the default colour scheme of communication 85. Goals page, describing the energy aura’s objectives
The app monitors the home’s consumption, communicates to the user detailed information useful to take more care of one’s carbon footprint as well as electricity bill, but the app can also control the light product. Restating the fact that light is not only a means of illuminated, established that it can communicate, recent studies have found that light can also be used as a therapy; especially colored lighting. Chromotherapy is the technical term that defines colour and light as a means of healing; it has been hypothesized as a method of treatment that uses the visible spectrum (colours) of electromagnetic radiation to cure diseases. In simpler means, seeing as the product communicates through light pulsations the colour linked to the value of energy consumption in the house, in other moments where the user would like to simply illuminate their house for aesthetic purposes; the app has the added feature of being able to control which colour the light emits. Atop of this the user can control the brightness of the light according the the situations taking place in the home; for example a ‘cinema mode’ can be coloured with a light blue atmosphere, or a dinner with friends instead can be a tone of red, these are two situations that can be defined with a coloured atmosphere to the user’s liking.
This feature in lighting has been developed in the previously mentioned Phillips Hue collection, as well as a new product about to be released in the Spring of 2016 called the Nanoleaf Aurora, developed by Nanoleaf studios. The designers developed a new shape for a wall-mounted light, its main characteristic is its colour changing. The product description mentions, “light has a surprising impact on us: it plays a major role in our sense of self and affects everything from energy levels and appetite to focus and happiness.”30 Taking reference to similar light designs, the light project and its app enable a user to fix a certain mood in their room, to differentiate to the function of communicating energy consumption, is its static emitter; when the aura product needs to communicate energy consumption levels it does this through light pulsations, whereas when the user wants to alter the room’s atmosphere lighting, the light is static (non-pulsating); giving the user a fine differentiation between the two.
QR code to Nanoleaf Aurora video: 88
86. ‘Mood’ page, colour and brightness of light costumisation 87. Nanoleaf Aurora designed by Nanoleaf 88. Nanoleaf Aurora presentation picture 88. QR code featured to direct to the video link
Product Development product design
Product Design is a very broad concept, it is essentially the efficient and effective generation and development of ideas through a process that leads to new products.
Along with the smartphone app, the other two products were defined to be an electrical plug, which would transmit the information gathered from the electrical panel to the app and to the light device; that which would act as the physical communication of the aura system. The electrical plug is characterized by its smooth aesthetic, compact to withhold the hardware necessary to recognize, transmit and record the information passing through the electrical socket and to be able to connect through wifi or via bluetooth to the app and light device. The light product development started with the idea of a light strip to represent the network of the home, the most similar type of lighting in this case is recessed lighting; where light is integrated in structural elements of the house like walls or ceilings. The product acts in the same manner, reflecting the concept of a recessed lighting its design developed with through sketches of a section of an extrusion. Necessary folds in the extrusion for LED strips to fit through, for the appropriate small plexiglass light diffuser and and attachment mechanism that would facilitate its installation in the home. Its modularity would be developed through small rubber inserts to place between a light device and another.
89. Rendering of the light device module extrusion
90. Rendering of the plug device that transmits information 90. from the household electrical system to the app and light
Initial studies of a section form started by drawing around the main element, the LED strip, leaving the particular measurement reference the sketches were drawn by always keeping the 1 cm necessary to fill in with the LED strip. As the sketch trials of the section line evolved it became more complex; a curve developed to smoothen and expand the colour effect of the light emitted by the LED, another curve; following the same tangent developed with the function to hide the technical elements. A second LED strip was inserted to give it more value, and later another curve was added to cover and direction the light of this second LED as it could cause possible blinding effect if positioned at a wrong angle. To prevent fragility in certain parts the subsequent sketch trials developed by making sure there werenâ€™t many fragile parts of the extrusion. An attaching system was developed and little edges to hold a plexiglass light diffuser were inserted. The extrusion was studied in a way to be applied in 3 different positions, placed as a skirting band around the house; placed facing the angle of a room, giving it value or at a high point of a wall close to the ceiling so that the light emitted from the top LED would shine on the ceiling and again add value to that area of the room.
91. Sketches of the evolution of the extrusion
92. Skecthes studying the LED strip insertion and projection 93. Sketch of the final version of the extrusion
To facilitate the light device installation in the house, the design was approached with the simplest mechanism achievable. A plastic extrusion strip would be attached on the wall or ceiling surface with screws, subsequently the extrusion would simply attach to the wall strip with a hook mechanism. Being very thin, the aluminum extrusion has a slight flexibility, the plastic strip would be shaped with the inverse outline of the extrusion hook, so that once pressed, the thin band would fold outwards and consequently hook on its form that is shaped exactly opposite the outline of the hooking element onto the plastic, an easy application without use of additional tools or glues.
94. Sketches studying the attachment system 95. Rendering presentation of attachment detail
Product Function function
an activity that is natural to or the purpose of a person or thing.
The aura home system includes a light device that can be placed in any part of the house, can act as a skirting band of the home, as an illuminating ceiling frame or placed at an angle of a room to create special lighting effects as well as introducing a new value to parts of the home that are overlooked. The smartphone app informs the user in much deeper detail, through algorithms and calculations it mainly informs three things; energy consumption measured in Watt hours, money consumed measured in the according country’s currency, and carbon emissions measured in grams. The name of the project was decided after having considered other names that would represent a communicative atmosphere. Finding inspiration in the natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights, technically called the Aurora Borealis, the project was named ‘energy aura’ to represent its colour illumination but also the fact that the light is a presence in the household that can help the user reduce their energy consumption, hence its negative contributions to carbon emissions in the atmosphere.
96. Light device concept placed in an interior, alongside the 96. according values displayed on the connected app, and 96. the same light illumination on the plug Original pictures belong to Tim Van de Velde © All Rights Reserved 2012 [source: http://www.tvdv.be/features/whiteout/]
97. Light device concept placed in an interior, alongside the 97. according values displayed on the connected app Original pictures belong to Tim Van de Velde ÂŠ All Rights Reserved 2012 [source: http://www.tvdv.be/features/whiteout/]
98. Light device concept placed in an interior, alongside the 98. according values displayed on the connected app Original pictures belong to Tim Van de Velde ÂŠ All Rights Reserved 2012 [source: http://www.tvdv.be/features/whiteout/]
99. Light device and according colour display on app 98. red light tone representing consumption over 35kWh 100. Light device and accordinh colour display on app 100. yellow light tone representing consumption from 20kWh
101. Light device and according colour display on app 98. green light tone representing consumption from 5kWh 102. Light device and accordinh colour display on app 100. blue light tone representing consumption from 200Wh
Conclusion collective action
behavior or actions of a group of individuals working toward a common goal. When individuals engage in collective action, the strength of the groupâ€™s resources, knowledge and efforts is combined to reach a goal shared by all parties.
Energy is now essential to our daily modern life, however as established in the research, energy consumption is the leading cause of Climate Change that is posing a threat to our environment as well as our health. The way energy is produced, through the combustion of fossil fuels is a significant contributor to carbon emissions in the atmosphere, nevertheless it is also the consumption of this energy that contributes to these. Solutions to establish sustainable lifestyles have already been introduced, like renewable energy sources that would replace the need to burn fossil fuels to generate electricity and instead take advantage of sources that cannot be depleted like the sun, the wind and others to generate the same energy. Architectural movements have and are paying their part to consider nature and the environment more in the creation of buildings and structures that do not harm the surrounding environment or ecosystems; the same goes for design alongside the advance in technology. A lot of design takes inspiration from natural systems to create new products, or using recycled materials from old products to create new ones. Having found that energy consumption worldwide is a very important problem, the research
31. Value defined by calculating the average consumption of 26. an italian household using data presented in the table of 26. http://www.informagiovani-italia.com/
established that the way to tackle the energy consumption problem was to reduce the project scale to a single household. A single household can consume up to 40kWh of energy everyday,31 an excessive amount that can easily be reduced. Paying attention to using sustainably validated electrical appliances as well as avoiding devices to stay in standby mode if not used regularly can help a lot in reducing a household’s carbon footprint. Nevertheless being a busy society, family’s might not have the time or input to properly be informed, but information is key. Advance in technology has shown that smart home systems will become a normality in the new future. Having devices or simply applications in smartphones that can inform, control and monitor anything going on in a household is technology that can reshape our lifestyles and make it more sustainable. The concept of the aura product system follows the idea of visualizing our home as a pulsating network, and the aura device is able to connect to it and communicate relevant information to energy consumption. The product raises energy awareness by providing information, and the user learns from it by understanding their individual contribution to the negative effects of carbon
emissions and Climate Change. Being a light, it can be placed anywhere in the home, also thanks to its modularity it can represent an aesthetic detail or decoration added to ones living space. The fact that it is accompanied by a smartphone app only strengthens the concept of information being key to energy awareness. Future design propositions could be that by placing the light in cafe bars, restaurants and public areas as a means to communicate the location’s sustainability. Like having a restaurant illuminated by its consumption colour to show that they are making an effort to be more ecosustainable can encourage more costumers to come in. Having started by resolving the energy problem at a small scale through a single household, the product could be imagined at a larger scale informing whole cities of their consumptions. Individual action means each person in each household must make an effort to change a small part of their life for a better chance for the planet. The aura product system encourages through pleasant lighting or through an accessible smartphone app to make this small change; by paying more attention to what goes on in the household. By tackling this type of solution
individually, home by home, could lead to collective action against the common goal of reducing carbon emissions to slow down Climate Change. The preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India, also an advocate for freedom and civil rights, Mahatma Ghandi once said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it,” relative to different situations, in the case of reducing energy consumption this saying can be applied to the thought that if one person takes care of their seemingly insignificant change for the environment by reducing their individual negative contribution it could have major results that if done by many with the same care, would collectively make a difference.
the use of a source of information in order to ascertain something.
24. Hierzinger, Roland, AEA, and Juraj Krivošík. “Comparison of Energy Efficiency Requirements of the Energy Labels and
22. Ecodesign Legislations.” Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, June 2012. PDF. Web.
27. Kula, Daniel, Elodie Ternaux, Quentin Hirsinger, Maroussia Jannelle, and Benjamin Gomez. Materiology: The Creatives
25. Guide to Materials and Technologies. 2014. Print
13. Deng, Yvonne, Barney Jeffries, and Stephan Singer. The Energy Report - 100 % Renewable Energy by 2050. Gland: 13. WWF International, 2011. PDF. Web.
Phillips Hue “Turn on Living”
Sony Multifunctional Light
17. Deng, Yvonne, Barney Jeffries, and Stephan Singer. The Energy Report - 100 % Renewable Energy by 2050. Gland: 13. WWF International, 2011. PDF. Web. 18. http://oppenoffice.com/project/cor/
Coming Soon: Nanoleaf Aurora
19. Krauel, Jacobo, and Jay Noden. “Vincent Callebaut Architectures.” Urban Spaces: Environments for the Future.
Samsung Smart Home
19. Barcelona, Spain: Links, 2009. 78. Print.
20. “World Energy Outlook Special Report 2015: Energy and Climate Change.” PDF. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.
Acknowledgments I would like to thank my professor and thesis supervisor Filippo Pernisco, who always encouraged me to dare more in my projects, helped me see my work from a new perspective as well as motivating me to improve my designs and enabling me to discover new concepts and sources of inspiration. Thank you Christian Ludovici, my industrial design professor, for having taught me the fundamental principles of the design process, and for always having encouraged my extreme ideas. Thank you to my interior design professor, Andrea Nannetti for having motivated me to study interior design and product design. I would also like to thank my parents, mostly for everything they have given me but for always appreciating what i create and for always believing in my aspirations. A big thank you also goes to my siblings and friends for always being there for me.
Published on May 17, 2016
Innovative design and technology - mitigating climate change by monitoring household energy consumption.