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Dristi Manandhar responds to Nepal Earthquake

Dristi Manandhar is a second-year graduate architecture student at University of Oregon who has been working at the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory. But her inspiring story goes far beyond her experiences in the classroom.

On April 25, 2015, Manandhar was with her family at home in Kathmandu, Nepal when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck. Manandhar was fortunate to lead her parents and younger sister to safety outside. The earthquake resulted in more than 8,000 dead, 21,000 injured, 40 percent of the country’s infrastructure damaged and nearly 505,000 homes destroyed. Manandhar was fortunate to remain safe with her family and see her home only moderately damaged, despite the disastrous effects of the earthquake.

In response to the devastation around her, Manandhar joined the Nepal Engineering Association to assess more than 300 homes’ safety and structural integrity. Dismayed by how helpless she felt telling people that their homes were no longer safe, Manandhar changed her approach. She and six architecture alumni from her university joined forces to design an emergency shelter, using the name Aashraya, Sanskrit for shelter.

The Aashraya team with a finished emergency shelter

The team quickly designed with a dome-like shelter inspired by Eli Kretzmann’s Pakistan flood relief shelters. Aashraya shared the plans and was able to help create over 2,300 shelters in 45 days across Nepal. The domes are both economical and resilient to Nepal’s harsh weather conditions.

At University of Oregon, Manandhar has become the first Nepal Scholarship recipient and a member of the International Cultural Service Program, an international student group that connects students from around the world with community events and engagement opportunities. As a graduate architecture student, she has been researching sustainable design, particularly passive heating and cooling methods in buildings at the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory.

After the past two years away, Manandhar will graduate from the UO in Spring 2017 and plans to return home to pick up where she left off.

Read the full story by Chakris Kussalanant.

2017 AIA Design & Health Research Consortium Convening

On March 21-22, the BioBE Center team took to Detroit to present “Biology & Buildings: How Indoor Environments Affect Human Health” to the American Institute of Architects Design & Health Research Consortium.  We were encouraged to see the diversity of research blooming at our fellow ACSA schools of architecture. For example, Joseph Kennedy from the NewSchool of Architecture & Design presented fascinating work on natural building materials in a panel discussion with members of the BioBE team. Bita Kash from Texas A&M University presented excellent work on integrating health and design, discussing ideas of fundamental adjacencies in the design process. Every panel was excellent, and the broad concern for integration of empirical methods to design evaluation was wonderful to see.

Most interesting was to learn from leading architecture firms about how they integrate research into their design practices and how they have developed funding models to support this research.  Upali Nanda (@upalinanda) of HKS Architects (Houston) talked about the importance of pooling research resources and openly sharing new knowledge in order to more rapidly progress the field and avoid redundancy.  Jeri Brittin, Director of Research at HDR Architects (Omaha) eloquently described how the research design process shares similarities with the building design process and how she has effectively used this analogy to explain the value of a rigorous research design process to firm decision makers.  Robert Phinney (@rsphinney), Sustainable Design Director at Page Architects (Washington DC), described the uphill climb that many firms face when trying to meaningfully integrate original research into the building design practice, stressing that measurable outcomes and financial metrics dominate the discourse.  What was most encouraging was that all three firm leaders described the immense value to their firms and clients of maintaining a tight relationship with university research and how rewarding it can be to work with academics to leverage their technical skills to help overcome the “pain points” facing their practice.  We couldn’t agree more!

Some of our most rewarding research has been closely linked with practical industry needs. However, there are some challenges that we face in the academy when integrating our work with industry objective.  First and foremost, is to ensure academic integrity when creating the research design to avoid real or perceived biases associated with industry engaged research.  Without this, the research has no value to industry or to science.  Other important considerations is to be nimble enough to complete the research at the “speed of business” and to work out possible concerns with intellectual property.  All of these, and other concerns, can be, and have been overcome.  The result in an opportunity to bring the leading scientific processes and utmost rigor to important problems that face society.  Industry partners can help to focus academic research and help it gain traction to make greater impact more rapidly.  It is for these reasons that we have launched a new industry engagement model here at the University of Oregon.

 

Original post: BioBE, May 3, 2017

Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg Launches Campus Impact Course

ESBL director Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg has launched a course through University of Oregon Allied Arts and Architecture entitled “Campus Impact: Comfort + Energy.” This course, open to both graduate and undergraduate students, offers the unique opportunity to collaborate with staff from the University of Oregon Campus Planning Design and Construction in a number of projects to improve the level of building performance and human comfort on campus.

“The University of Oregon Campus Planning and Facilities Management (UO Facilities) staff has agreed to support this class through substantive investment of human resources.  Together withUO Facilities, we have developed a suite of project categories and defined specific projects forstudent team analysis.  The focus will be placed on the studentbased team research and detailed analysis and evaluation of the sustainable design systems and building performance in quantitative terms; and qualitatively through interviews, transcriptions, and comfort questionnaires. We will submit our work to peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings and will present our results and manuscripts to UO Facilities.”

-Van Dem Wymelenberg

 

International VELUX Award: Automated Blinds Study

Congratulations to Amir Nezamdoost (UO architecture PhD student) and research assistant Alen Mahic for winning the Regional Award for The Americas in the International VELUX Award for Students of Architecture competition, presented recently at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin.

The team’s research estimates an annual savings of 390,000 kBtu, or $7,800 using automated blind controls over manual controls in a high-rise building in Boise, Idaho. The advantage over the automated controls is that manual blinds tend to remain closed longer throughout the day than automated blinds, which retract to take advantage of natural daylight.

The non-energy benefits, or annual productivity savings, equate to $274,500 per year, Nezamdoost said.

“There are numerous additional benefits such as increased occupant comfort, health, and productivity. Savings can be significant—assuming an increase in productivity of employees due to improved indoor environmental quality from increased availability of daylight and views, decreased discomfort due to glare and direct sunlight, and decreased time spent to manually adjust blinds.”

Watch this video about the team’s research, which shows how the automated blinds maximize light and views in an office building to enhance productivity and save energy.

International VELUX Award: Automated Blinds Study from veluxusa on Vimeo.

Since first appearing in 2004, the International VELUX Award has grown into the largest global student award within architecture, with outreach to more than 350 schools of architecture in 60 countries and a collection of 4,000 projects submitted since the first award in 2004.

“The award has a special focus on architecture for health and well-being. We want to encourage students to take up the challenges faced by cities and societies, where daylight and architecture can foster change through better and healthier living environments,” said Per Arnold Andersen of the VELUX Group.

 

Courtesy A&AA Communications

Mhuireach Awarded A&AA Dissertation Fellowship 2017-2018

Congratulations to Gwynne Mhuireach for winning a Dissertation Fellowship from the School of Architecture & Allied Arts at the University of Oregon!  Her working dissertation title is: Toward a Mechanistic Understanding of Relationships Between Airborne Microbial Communities and Urban Vegetation: Implications for Urban Planning and Human Well-being.  Mhuireach holds an M.Architecture (2012) from the University of Oregon and a B.S. in Biology (Ecology and Evolution Track, 1999) form the University of Washington. She is presently a Graduate Research Fellow at the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory and BioBE Center at University of Oregon.  Her anticipated graduation is June 2018.

Recent publication: Urban greenness influences airborne bacterial community composition

Dissertation Abstract: Variation in exposure to environmental microbial communities has been implicated in the etiology of allergies, asthma and other immune-related disorders. In particular, exposure to a high diversity of microbes during early life, for example through living in highly vegetated environments like farms or forests, may have specific health benefits, including immune system development and stimulation. In the face of rapidly growing cities and potential reductions in urban green space, it is vital to clarify whether and how microbial community composition is related to vegetation. The purpose of my proposed research is to identify plausible but under-explored mechanisms through which urban vegetation may influence public health. Specifically, I am investigating how airborne microbial communities vary with the amount, structural diversity, and/or species composition of green space for 50 sites in Eugene, Oregon. My approach combines geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing data with passive air sampling and culture-independent microbial sequencing.

Committee members:

  • Dr. Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture (Major Advisor & Committee Chair)
  • Dr. Jessica Green, Professor of Biology (Co-Advisor)
  • Roxi Thoren, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture (Core Member)
  • Dr. Deb Johnson-Shelton, Education/Health Researcher, Oregon Research Institute (Core Member)
  • G.Z. Brown, Professor of Architecture (Institutional Representative)

Health + Energy Research Consortium

The Biology and the Built Environment Center (BioBE) and Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory (ESBL) at the University of Oregon, are pleased to announce the launch of the the Health + Energy Research Consortium!  On May 4-5, 2017, in Portland Oregon, we begin our journey to dramatically reduce energy consumption and maximize human health by conducting research that transforms the design, construction and operation of built environments. This collaboration between innovative industry professionals and academic researchers in the disciplines of architecture, biology, chemistry, engineering, and urban design provides sharp focus to a research agenda that will accelerate the impact of key scientific discoveries.  The Health + Energy Research Consortium builds upon the momentum of ESBL and BioBE to create a new, dynamic, and flexible mechanism for the university to engage with industry in joint research and development ventures – providing intellectual space for the meeting of a wide array of disciplines that play integral roles in fostering improved energy efficiency and health outcomes in the built environment.

At the May 4-5 launch event , we will present the vision for the Consortium, solicit feedback about the proposed research agenda, explain and discuss the financial commitments and value proposition associated with Consortium membership, and discuss synergies with potential member organizations’ goals and objectives.  If you are interested in helping us align the Consortium research vision with the challenges that face our built environment and your industry sector, please contact BioBE Director, Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg.

We would like to acknowledge the generous support for the Health + Energy Research Consortium from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Registration is required, but the event is available at no charge.