Problems of organized complexity The case for a simple pattern Concluding her famous ode to cities in 1961, Jane Jacobs writes, “Cities happen to be problems of organized complexity.” From sidewalks of access to sidewalks of place, cities deal “simultaneously with a sizable number of factors which are interrelated into an organic whole.” As an … Continue reading Climate change: a problem of organized complexity
A short explainer on HVAC. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. When we say “HVAC” we most often mean the TECHNOLOGICAL SYSTEMS that deliver heating, ventilation, and air conditioning in a building. Most commonly, a single HVAC system delivers all three of these functions (although decoupled systems are on the rise). Here, we’ll … Continue reading HVAC systems… what are they?
Pre-Print? This is still a work in progress; I will continue to update this post over the coming weeks This piece explores why re-orienting buildings around public health is so important, and it offers areas of opportunity (particularly for indoor air quality via HVAC) for anyone– not just building technologists!–to get started. Prologue Earlier this … Continue reading What can a Building Technologist do about Public Health? [Pre-Print]
WELCOME BACK If you’ve stuck with me this long, thank you! You must be just as much of a buildings / climate change geek as I am. Earlier, I wrote about about the need to address building related greenhouse gas emissions and discussed the frictions that I believe prevent residents from evolving their Personal Infrastructure. … Continue reading What can a building technologist do about climate change? Part 3
Core & Shell In an earlier post, I wondered: How does one determine what to spend one’s time on, in a shift to focusing on climate change? Particularly one who has an obsessive interest in people’s experiences with buildings and the built environment, like myself? I narrowed in on modular components that needed a deeper … Continue reading What can a building technologist do about climate change? Part 2
Stewart Brand asks a great question: Did Herbert Simon explore the maintenance of systems? I haven’t found Simon discuss maintenance explicitly. But two related themes are worth highlighting: (1) Simon discusses maintenance through the topic of homeostasis. “For example, Maintenance of a system becomes much simpler if the internal temperature is constant.” Keeping a limited … Continue reading Herb Simon on maintenance
A listening dialogue on infrastructure Like any good art project, this idea has been percolating in my mind for a while now. A side project related but very different from my day-to-day. I propose hosting a day-long listening dialogue on the role of infrastructure across disciplines. This gathering would bring together practitioners to uncover patterns … Continue reading Plans for an infrastructure conference
My understanding of maintenance: More: capable to continue to evolve Less: contain at status quo / steady state Related to infrastructure: Keep flexible so can accommodate future changes And don’t forget the personal maintenance it takes to pursue unique ideas or to have sufficient “slack” to emotionally support others The Cybernetics of Maintenance Cybernetics is … Continue reading A short description of maintenance
Title inspired by Bret Victor’s piece “What can a Technologist do about Climate Change?“ Something that has been swirling in my mind lately: personally having a more direct impact on our quest to reduce the causes of climate change. While I’ve been indirectly involved in environmental endeavors for most of my career, I naively thought … Continue reading What can a Building Technologist do about Climate Change?
An excellent framing of the fragmentation in the building industry can be found in Dana A Sheffer’s 2010 dissertation on the Diffusion of Energy Saving Technologies in the Building Industry. (Also see related work here by Daniel Hall.) Sheffer’s piece inspired my own thinking, as written here: Introduction The decentralized nature of the building industry … Continue reading Fragmentation in the building industry