Sunday, April 27, 2014
The building I chose to explore was the fraternity house that I live in since I assumed that I would be most familiar with this building and would have the most access to all parts of the structure. The building is almost 90 years old, so I did not exactly expect it to be the most environmentally friendly building on campus, one with a lot of room to improve how it utilizes environmental factors. The first focus of my observation was the utilization of natural light throughout the building in rooms and main floors. Most individual living rooms made extremely poor use of the natural lighting presented throughout the day with electric lamps and lights being essential if you do not want to sit in a dark room all day. Most rooms have one window, with the exception of corner rooms that have windows on two walls instead. Because of the room layout the building was designed around, natural lighting is not even a possibility for anywhere except the individual rooms, which are never naturally lit. However, there are several windows at the end of each hallway in order to not depend solely on artificial light. The main floor, on the other hand, has two walls of windows and several very large and tall windows on the other walls. Because of the buildings architecture, there is not a lot of room to be improved in the use of natural light. The temperature control of the building fluctuates and is very hard to control. While the radiator system in each room and main floor heats the house fairly effectively through the winter, the poor insulation of the house and the gaps and sealing failures around many of the windows causes heat to escape constantly. Energy is not used nearly as efficiently as is demanded by changing environmental awareness. There is almost not shading effect offered by surrounding vegetation or trees, and the UV sink that is the black plaster roof has a huge heating island effect. Since the building is three stories high, it is unrealistic to think that trees or other ground level vegetation can be grown to offer shade from the sun and solar heating in the summer, but it could be converted to a green rooftop to take care of the issue. However, the issues of upkeep, implementation, and other factors still remain as obstacles to achieving advancement in the environmental and heating awareness area.