AIA selects 2009 Upjohn Research Initiative Projects Print
Monday, 26 October 2009 12:16

Washington, D.C. – October 26, 2009 – The jury for the Upjohn Research Initiative, a joint program of the College of Fellows and the Board Knowledge Committee to support knowledge sharing between practitioners and academicians, has announced the four projects selected to receive grants.

The purpose of this grant is to provide base funds for applied research projects that advance professional knowledge and practice.  The 18-month long project grant qualifies recipients to have their findings and outcomes published both electronically and in a nationally distributed publication. The annual grants range from $15,000 to $30,000. The following four submissions were selected for funding:
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Sustainability Index: Designing a System of Performance Indicators to Measure and Manage Urban Developments

Principal investigators:
Bimal Mendis, assistant dean, director of undergraduate studies, Yale School of Architecture
Joyce Hsiang, critic and lecturer, Yale School of Architecture and Yale College

Summary: The research proposes to design and develop a sustainability index to measure and evaluate sustainable urban development using a transparent system of performance indicators.  It will explore such issues as how sustainable development is defined, how it can be measured, and how an index could change the way we design cities.

Energy Efficiency Benchmarks for Housing

Principal investigators:
Joerg Ruegemer, assistant director, Integrated Technology in Architecture Center (I TAC), University of Utah
Ryan E. Smith, director, I TAC, University of Utah

Summary: Although several benchmark rating systems have been established in recent years to aid in achieving energy-efficient housing, the goal of designing and building net zero energy housing has been viewed as cost prohibitive, and the methods of achieving this goal are generally unknown.  This research will study the following four rating systems for their capacity to achieve net zero energy housing and the associated costs: EPA Energy Star Qualified Homes, ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard, USGBC LEED for Homes 2008, and the Passive Home Planning Package 2007.

REIs: Renewable Energy Infrastructures

Principal investigator:
Chris Ford, 2008–2010 Steward Professor in Sustainable Design, College of Architecture, University of Nebraska

Summary: The research team will apply design-thinking skills to a problem that involves energy production, energy transmission, and urban living. REIs will generate renewable energy megawatts at an industrial scale through the simultaneous harnessing of wind, solar, and geothermal resources in an integrated, freestanding facility in an urban environment.  The REI is conceived as a new building typology, not a retrofit of an existing building.  The greatest impact of the REI research will be the formation of a cross-disciplinary, design-led team that delivers a plausible, cost-effective option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from public power districts.

Responsive Field: An Active Environmental Control System

Principal investigators:
Rob Ley, principal, Urbana; design faculty, SCI-Arc
Joshua G. Stein, principal, Radical Craft; associate professor, Woodbury University

Summary: Responsive Field is an ongoing research endeavor that investigates the potential for emerging material technology to offer a responsive climate control surface that can mediate and negotiate the zone between architecture and the environment.  Shape memory alloys (SMAs), a category of metals that change shape according to temperature, offer the possibility of efficient, fluid movement without the mechanized motion of earlier technologies.  Operating at a molecular level, this motion parallels that of plants and lower-level organisms that are considered responsive but not conscious.  Larger than the scale of nanotechnology, this research is a translation of existing, visible technologies that offer profound implications for the way we conceive of the built environment.

Read more about what the AIA is doing for architectural research

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