How do you illustrate the microbiome of bacterial, fungal and viral communities to architects, engineers and building equipment manufacturers? You commission an artist! During the events of Health and Energy Research Consortium, Morgan Maiolie was busy with a brush set to canvas. Associate Professor, and director Van Den Wymelenberg notes “We really wanted to find a way to bring the microbiome to life for the diverse consortium guests, so we decided to invite an artist to complete a live painting that responded to the research presentations. Morgan Maiolie did an excellent job understanding and translating our scientific findings into her painting. She made the microbiome vibrant and tangible!”
Morgan describes her inspiration, “The team of research scientists at the Biology and Built Environment Center and Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory have illuminated the world of living, breathing bacteria swirling in the air around us and this piece visualizes that invisible world. The researchers made me aware of the key role building design plays in shaping our indoor microbiome. Buildings can act as filters, petri dishes, and wind tunnels. I wanted the painting to conceptually reveal how bacteria might move into and through a building based on its architecture, systems, and inhabitation.”
To learn more about Maolie and her work, please visit her website: maiolie.com.
Humans spend most of their time indoors, exposed to bacterial communities found in dust. Understanding what determines the structure of these communities may therefore have relevance for human health. Light exposure in particular is a critical building design consideration and is known to alter growth and mortality rates of many bacterial populations, but the effects of light on the structure of entire dust communities are unclear.
We performed a controlled microcosm experiment designed to parse the effects of filtered solar radiation on the structure of dust microbial communities.
We report that exposure to light per se has marked effects on community diversity, composition and viability, while variation in light dosage or particular wavelengths experienced are associated with nuanced changes in community structure. Our results suggest that architects and lighting professionals designing rooms with more or less access to daylight may play a role in shaping bacterial communities associated with indoor dust.
One of the key topics discussed at the Health Energy Research Consortium was natural daylight and its relevance to healthy living and working environments. Amir Nezamdoost, UO architecture PhD and ESBL graduate research fellow, presented his current research on overlit spaces and the human factor associated with blinds operation.
Daylighting is a common energy-efficiency strategy that also boasts a myriad of other human benefits (Reinhart & Selkowitz, 2006; Van Den Wymelenberg, 2014). Successful daylighting design that saves energy and improves human satisfaction incorporates many technologies, spans several disciplines, and requires attention throughout the design process. Blinds are quite common in spaces designed for daylighting (HMG PIER Review, 2012; Nezamdoost & Van Den Wymelenberg, 2016, 2017), since almost any daylighting design will bring with it some period of low angle sunlight, causing intermittent glare and requiring mitigation.
Moreover, with the latest published version LEED (v4), a greater emphasis is now being placed on implementation of glare control devices in buildings to protect occupants from sunlight exposure and subsequent glare and thermal stress.
Blind position and operation affect the amount and distribution of daylight entering a building as well as all forms of thermal transfer through windows. Daylight-sensing lighting control holds the potential to save significant energy, however, realized savings are reduced if window blinds are closed. Blinds have the potential to reduce cooling energy and peak cooling demand, especially if located outside of the thermal envelope. Effective daylight-sensing lighting controls can also reduce cooling loads by minimizing waste heat from lights. However, these potential impacts cannot be determined without accurate manual blind models.
Recent studies conducted by Nezamdoost and Van Den Wymelenberg, show that current manual blind use candidates are too active and behave like an automated shading system. Overall, in order to develop a reliable manual blind use pattern for future use in simulation broadly, and energy codes, and daylighting standards specifically, additional human factors and post occupancy research of manual blind use in real buildings is needed.
Reinhart, C. & Selkowitz, S., (2006). Daylighting—Light, form, and people. Energy and Buildings, 38(7), pp.715–717.
Heschong Mahone Group (2012). Daylight Metrics – PIER Daylighting Plus Research Program, California Energy Commission.
Nezamdoost, A., & Van Den Wymelenberg, K. (2016). SENSITIVITY STUDY OF ANNUAL AND POINT-IN-TIME DAYLIGHT PERFORMANCE METRICS: A 24 SPACE MULTI-YEAR FIELD STUDY. IBPSA-USA Journal, 6(1).
Nezamdoost, A., & Van Den Wymelenberg, K. G. (2017). Revisiting the Daylit Area: Examining Daylighting Performance Using Subjective Human Evaluations and Simulated Compliance with the LEED Version 4 Daylight Credit. LEUKOS, 13(2), 107-123.
Van Den Wymelenberg, K. G. (2014) Visual Comfort, Discomfort Glare, and Occupant Fenestration Control: Developing a Research Agenda, LEUKOS: The Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, 10:4,207-221
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.
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.
Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory
103 Pacific Hall
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-5231
105A White Stag Building
70 NW Couch Street
University of Oregon
Portland, OR 97209