Into cold water – pro bono

On December 7, 2020, the calendar reminds us of a "Teams" meeting. A virtual meeting is scheduled. Gradually, the participants come together, the more participants, the more acoustic disturbances. Two mentors, one of them from India, are joining with the Academy Fellows, some of them on-site in the meeting room, some of them working from home. There is an additional task in front of them. What's known so far is that a hostel for young women in training is to be built in East Africa.

Transsolar, represented by the Academy, wants to provide pro bono consulting on indoor climate. A first draft of a model is available; it envisions two blocks of flats with a partially open façade. It seems that the idea is that air movement should be possible, so this model already has potential for passive strategies.

Who "the others" are, with whom the design team is to be created, is not yet known. A former Academy Fellow will likely also be involved, at least as advisor. Too bad he didn't make it into today's virtual meeting - or would it have been necessary to use a different platform than "Teams"? The design team should be figured out shortly – by the Holidays.

What do they need to know by then? The exact location with height and orientation of the buildings must be clarified. The weather data from an airport a few kilometers away allows insight into the local climate. Solar radiation on a horizontal surface is quoted 2247 kWh/m² per year. That is much more than twice the amount of our region.
For the air temperature, daily maximum values of 29.2°C are mentioned. In connection with the solar radiation there is the danger of overheating for an unprotected building. How can this be avoided? The solar radiation on the facade must be considered. Which sides of the building does the sun reach? The alignment of the blocks must therefore be clarified as a priority.
Further questions arise: What indoor climate does the customer expect? Do they need active cooling? Is it possible to cool with air movement, for example by cross-ventilation? Can it get too cold at night? How strong is the wind blowing and is it coming from a preferred direction? What do the users do in the rooms? Does it blow documents off the table when the window is open? What about the humidity? And what about rain?

Everyone has contributed something or raised questions for which answers can only be found later. Fellow Ana took down a lot of notes. What will happen now? Everybody will record their thoughts – perhaps immediately in a shared document – within two days and send it to the "pilot" Michelle for safekeeping. The further course of time will be as tight as in competitions. The design team should be formed before the Holidays. After the winter break and the New Year regular weekly workshops must take place. The design is supposed to be developed by the end of March.

The Fellows now bear responsibility. In a sense, they are responsible for navigation, they have to determine which path they take. So the experienced Transsolarians do not guide, but rather remain on board as pilots. Per request, the Academy Fellows receive support. With limited time, in addition to the tasks they have already been working on, everything is now up to them: Team building, collecting data, answering questions, developing ideas, acting on time, etc.
Like jumping into cold water, but to do good.

– To be continued.