Monday, May 16, 2011

Comfort-On-Demand: Metropolis Next Generation Competition Runner Up!

I thought I'd share the Metropolis Next Gen competition entry my friends Nash Hurley and Taylor Keep and I designed. We were a runner-up! It's in the online version today and a full spread will be in the print addition coming out Tuesday. The challenge was to adapt a 45 year old Federal GSA office building in LA to get close to net zero energy status.


Rather than focus on an architectural building adaptation (sorry, architects, it is only part of the problem) we decided the real challenge of getting to net zero is at the scale of the people and how to most efficiently make them comfortable... by giving them control of their individual climate. The solution is part architecture, part furniture design, part interaction design, part behavior change.


Here's a bit more about the project:
Comfort-on-Demand is a furniture system that heats, cools, and lights individual work environments. Each person tunes her workspace by controlling table-integrated fans, touch-activated heating surfaces, and lighting level through a smartphone interface. The system directs energy to where it is needed and provides a personalized work experience. Comfort-on-Demand also addresses the growing tension between slow-to-adjust brick and mortar buildings and ever increasing workforce mobility in the commercial real estate market. Each day, people are away from their desk 50-60% of the time. All this mobility points to a need for energy systems tied to the office worker, not tied to the building.

Nash and Taylor recently started a new firm, VITAL. They are "a building design and innovation company that delivers smart energy strategies for user-driven environments." You should be expecting big things from them very soon.

To close out with less self-promotion and more of what this blog is all about: it will be fascinating to see how more of these systems will give us just-in-time services and experiences in the near future. Further proof that putting control of the individual is more efficient and beneficial to the group.