Hacking Sustainability

CHAOS has joined the Internet of Things revolution, streaming data from buildings and experimental setups to a remote server. Using Spark Core and Arduino microcontrollers, temperature, humidity, and mean radiant temperature data, among others, is streamed and saved. The simplicity of this plug-and-play system is remarkable, and for a fraction of the cost of similar, but less customizable, conventional systems.

Spark Core controlled mean radiant temperature sensor mock-up.

Building data is inherently important, since feedback on the operation of systems is essential to occupant comfort. Cheap microcontrollers and sensors have allowed us to obtain a more complete picture of occupant comfort factors, including directional mean radiant temperature information, as well as detailed information from building airspaces.

"Misplaced" ladder in a School of Architecture double-facade cavity.
“Misplaced” ladder in a School of Architecture double-facade cavity.

These data allow us to easily assess comfort from a broader and more complete perspective. For example, mean radiant temperature is just as important to occupant comfort as air temperature, but has historically been expensive and difficult to accurately measure. Our information can be used to create better thermostats for more comfortable occupants. Additionally, we are currently studying the fluid dynamics of “hot air rises” in building spaces, as demonstrated by the ladder in the airspace in the previous image.

Our engineering ingenuity has also been applied to some other smaller-scale experiments:

Solar Tracker

photo 1 (5)photo 2 (6)



Research team led by Prof Forrest Meggers, faculty jointly appointed in the School of Architecture and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.