Holistic design at January 2019 Sustainability Forum

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Mon Jan 28, 2019

Chris Wilson, operations director and leader of the Energy + Eco team at Environmental Systems Design (ESD) presented on the Illinois Tech Mies Campus as the main presenter for the January 2019 Sustainability Forum on the afternoon of Friday, January 25, 2019 in the Hermann Hall Ballroom. These forums are hosted every month by the Office of Campus Energy and Sustainability (OCES) as a way of sparking key conversations on issues such as climate change, environmental sustainability, energy efficiency, and other environmental topics. 

Wilson has previously presented on the Illinois Tech campus; in the fall 2018 semester, he gave a very similar presentation on behalf of several Illinois Tech student organizations, including the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Latinos Involved in Further Education (LIFE), Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE), Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and Eta Kappa Nu (HKN). More information on this initial presentation can be found in the article “Chris Wilson presents on energy audits, environmental sustainability” found in TechNews Volume 190, Issue 3 (published on September 18, 2018).

In this more recent presentation, Wilson once again gave a technical overview of the work done by ESD to work with various clients of various industries and locations in operating in a more environmentally friendly and efficient manner (helping these clients pursue their “triple bottom lines”). He gave special attention to the services offered by ESD such as building analytics, which can involve the use of simulation software to optimize and prioritize energy use; building climate analysis; thermal comfort analysis; and full building energy modeling.

One especially notable area that Wilson discussed was the concept of an integrative design process. As the name implies, this process is one wherein ESD is brought into the initial design approach of a building, as opposed to being consulted to optimize and retrofit an existing process. Under an integrative design process, ESD works closely with the engineers and architects of a proposed building in a “holistic design approach” that allows energy efficiency and environmental stewardship to be present from the very onset of the design process.

As the environmental impact humans make upon the world continues to grow in scope and importance (for example, Wilson referred to how the exponential growth of data centers represents a massive energy consumption area in need of optimization), the work of organizations such as ESD will only continue to grow in necessity. Approaches such as integrative design are already showing how environmental stewardship cannot just be the responsibility of engineers; it must be ingrained into every discipline if we want to keep our planet sustainable for the generations to come.

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