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However, current societal goals to reach carbon neutrality, while reducing the impact of the built environment on regional ecosystems and biodiversity, has placed increased attention on how we might design with natural energy and ecological flows. Here, we propose to experiment with adaptive building strategies that re-conceptualize the building systems matrix as a distributed energy transfer medium to capture, transform, store, and re-distribute bioclimatic energy resources, akin to how biotic systems metabolize energy and manage thermodynamics as part of a local ecology.

A paradigm shift in rethinking the way energy flows though the building system matrix would require a critical inquiry that investigates the entire building systems matrix as an ecosystem. An ecosystems approach views bioclimatic flows (e.g., vegetation, light, humidity, temperature, etc., or anything with an energy gradient and thus potential) as significant resources that are encouraged to flow through the building systems matrix. In this course, we study the bioclimatic energy flows (e.g., light, humidity, thermal) through built ecologies--the matrix of coupled built and natural systems, both designed and emergent. These systems are studied across physical, social, technological, and psychological dimensions. To explore the implications of emerging technologies and strategies such as dynamic fenestration, phytoremediation of airborne contaminants, or facade-integrated energy transformation, multiple criteria are investigated concurrently, and challenged to perform within an ecosystem.

Within the context of the built ecology, the building envelope has the greatest potential for energy gain or loss, with the largest impact on our carbon footprint. It also offers the greatest opportunity to address the relationships that we set up between human and non-human living systems through architecture and urbanism. While extended ecological systems take advantage of ambient energy flows to diversify and thrive, historical building techniques have tended towards mitigating these same potential resources, resulting in the development of an array of largely independent, exclusionary and isolated devices and building systems for environmental controls that function independently of the available bioclimatic resources.

How can we incorporate nature into our built environment?










Image: Kevin Yang