Embodied energetics : a digital design-production system for passive solar walls in Vinalhaven Island, Maine
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Lawrence Sass and James Wescoat.
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I propose a digital design-production system to easily assemble, selectively disassemble, and reassemble novel passive solar walls. The problem statement I tackle is that all houses in Vinalhaven Island, Maine have high home-heating energy burden due to their thermally weak thin walls. Substituting thin walls with typical passive solar walls is a known solution, however such walls would be inundated with (i) high embodied energy in non-recoverable materials, (ii) high complexity of construction, and (iii) high cost of construction and renovation. Facilitated by a CAD-CAM interface, I develop a methodological framework called Design for Assembly, Disassembly, and Reassembly to lower all three parameters efficiently. I demonstrate both the framework and its outcomes by rapidly prototyping a few study models of passive solar walls. I speculate on the urban implications of a widespread integration of walls with reduced and recoverable material embodied energy. In order to effectively visualize this, the system boundary of urbanism scales up from a wall to a house, to two adjacent houses, and finally to five houses in Vinalhaven's downtown. I claim that successful on-site substitution of today's standard walls with Digital Passive Solar Walls will accelerate Vinalhaven's island homes toward a holistic energy transition. Broadly, I encourage professionals in the building industry to embrace such digital systems to recover material embodied energy locked in their designed artifacts.
This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2019Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 102-105).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology