For Assignment Two, I tracked my activity for four hours through a typical day during the summer of 2014. I recorded the times that I consumed any kind of energy that provided energy for any type of activity that I participated in. During a typical day I worked out, went to work, and then took a class. Below you will find an hourly breakdown of my activity. In this diagram I focused on the natural and most important energy consumptions at the human scale.

Forms of energy consumption: food, drink, oxygen, sunlight, electricity, and natural gas.

Providing: heat/cooling, light, transportation, physical energy, and food preparation.



  • 8:00am: Half way through a workout spin class
    • Consuming water to provide body cooling
    • Absorbing cold air to provide body cooling
    • Spin bike powered by electricity
    • Walking out of the cycling room: consuming cool air to provide body cooling
    • Expelling heat in the form of sweat
  • 8:30am: Walk home from the gym
    • Consuming heat from the sun to counteract the over cooling effect from cold air on wet skin (direct solar)
  • 9:00am: Walking to work
    • Consuming heat from the sun (direct solar)
    • Using computers powered by electricity
    • Consuming coffee
    • Cooled by air conditioning powered by electricity
    • Consuming direct sunlight
  • 10:00am
    • Using computers powered by electricity
    • Cooled by air conditioning powered by electricity
    • Consuming direct sunlight
  • 11:00am
    •  Consuming food/water (eating breakfast) to provide energy for an afternoon at work, walking, thinking, typing, and any other work related responsibilities
    • Running errands: expelling sweat to maintain a comfortable body temperature
    • Consuming direct sunlight
    • Using transportation

Assingment2 diagram_final

3 ways you could have the largest impact in changing the larger impact of your web, at the scale of the individual, the habitable space, and the global infrastructure network.

As a single individual, I would not have a very large impact on the impact of my larger web, but a way to cut out a whole branch would be to stop consuming meat and foods made with any chemicals. This would shrink my larger web about a quarter and eliminate all the (red labeled) chemical disturbances that change the final for of the food and beverages.

At the scale of the habitable space, the largest impact that my actions would have on the larger web would be if I were to be more conscious about the times when I’m using non-renewable resources. Sometimes it’s easy to be careless about leaving the air conditioning or the lights on all day, which is using up non-renewable energy. If everyone made a conscious effort to turn off all the lights and use the air conditioning of heating units more sparingly, the impact would be huge, but it starts at the scale of the habitable space.

At the scale of the global infrastructure network, my web would have a large impact on the larger web if I were to use only renewable sources to power all electrical applications. It is in the home or the office where I use the most energy that comes from non-renewable natural resources, so if both my home and office were powered by solar power or another form of renewable energy, I would have an opportunity to change my impact on the larger web.


There are many ways in which a  building can be built in conjunction with the energy resources of the particular site. Whether a building is designed to consume a great deal of energy from a site with readily available resources, or its designed to conserve energy on a site where natural resources are scarce, most buildings these days are designed with some consideration of the growing green movement. Although there are extreme buildings types in both directions, I believe the most radical attempt to live “greenly” take form in structures built off the grid. These structures are built exactly how the title entails, completes separated from the main or national electric grid. Normally built in countries or areas with little access to electricity, these types of buildings can either be singular stand-alone systems (used for one building), or multiple buildings on one mini-grid which would provide a smaller community with the necessary electricity. In all cases these single buildings, or small communities live self-sufficiently, with zero reliance on one or more public utilities.

Although there are many examples of this type of building, spanning from many different countries, a rather important one is the EcoCenter at heron’s Head Park in San Francisco. San Francisco has always been at the forefront of urban planning and environmental innovation; however, there are still necessary green measures to be taken to make the city more livable. San Francisco began to push for a greener landscape in 1997 with a city-wide Sustainability Plan and in 1999 passed a more specific Resource-Efficient City Building Ordinance[1]. Although these codes help, there is still much room for improvement, especially in private sector development, where people have avoided taking the sustainable route due to tradition, building codes, expenses, and external costs. The EcoCenter is leading the green movement in San Francisco and educating the public at the same time.

The EcoCenter is located in Bayview Hunters Point, an area that has undergone extreme transformations over the past decades. In the mid-1800s, the neighborhood transitioned into an industrial hub with the construction of the city’s largest wastewater treatment facility, a power plant, and many other large scale industrial buildings. Just after World War II, the Radiological Defense Laboratory conducted research on the effects of radiation and decontaminated shipping vessels exposed during atomic bomb testing. Some of the radioactive waste was disposed of without safeguards in onsite landfills. About 40 years later, the shipyard used was declared a Superfund or “hazardous waste site in need of extensive clean up.” Residents continue to be effected by the exposure to hazardous substances in the air, soil and water. And the landscape, not yet recovered, is home to hundreds of brownfield sites. The EcoCenter was designed as a reaction to the contextual history.

As an off-the-grid building, the EcoCenter was designed with direct correlation to the energy sources available to the site. Instead of being connected to the main electrical power grid, the building utilities are powered by renewable energy harnessed onsite, which produces approximately 2 kilowatt-hours more each day than it consumes.[2] The building uses multiple energy systems to remain powered including solar energy, passive design strategies[3], and daylighting. Most of their energy comes from solar photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of the EcoCenter, which capture light during the day. This energy is stored in a battery storage bank that consists of 16 lead-acid batteries, which is vital for any time when the sun is not directly shining on the building. In terms of passive design strategies, the south facing wall is a Trombe Wall[4] made up of windows and the floor is concrete.[5] Another important material consideration is the use of Structural Insulated Panels on the exterior walls and rooftop, which help to insulate the building interior. These strategies work together to trap the warm air inside when it’s cool out, and keep the cool air inside when it’s warm. The building is also oriented to take advantage of daylighting with strategically placed windows and skylights to keep the building naturally lit during the daytime hours. When the lights do need to be turned on, the high efficiency LED lights can be turned on with very little energy consumption. Another solar energy strategy that is in the works is a radiant floor heating system. These energy systems are just a few examples of design strategies that reconsider how a building can relate to the significant historical and current energy context. As the first 100% off-the-grid building in San Francisco, this landmark of youth education is an example of designing with supreme contextual awareness.


[2] (


[3] Passive Design Strategies (Sustainable Design Strategies: The Basic Principal of Passive Design. Terri Boake, Professor at University of Waterloo.


[4] Trombe Wall


[5] Glass Passive Design Strategy (Sustainable Design Strategies: The Basic Principal of Passive Design. Terri Boake, Professor at University of Waterloo.



Below is my orthographic projection diagram of the sun over my proposed site. The site is located behind Campbell Hall by the sports turf. I chose this sight because half of it has substantial tree coverage and the other half is relatively open to sun penetration.


1. On March 21st my sun diagram shows that the site would receive 12 hours of sunlight.

2. On December 21st, the sun would first strike my site at 9:30am and on June 21st, the sun would first strike my site at 10:30am.

3. June 21st would have the most sunlight on my site. Also, when considering sun penetration, it is important to remember that the sun is at its most intense during the afternoon hours. My sun diagram shows that there would be primary sun exposure during those hours on intense sunlight on June 21st, making it the sunniest day on my site.

4. On August 15th at 3:00pm the altitude of the sun would be at 45 degrees and the azimuth would be at 250 degrees. The sun would strike my site at this time.

5. Creating a porch that would be warm in the winter and cool in the summer would be very challenging on my site because the tree coverage is divided into two sides and not sparse around the site.  The best way to construct a porch would have it be covered and facing south where the most sun penetration is. That way is would be shaded in the summer yet still warm in the winter from the direct sunlight.

6. Notable features on my site include the heavy tree coverage to the north and the lack of tree coverage in the south. Ideally, trees would be spread out along the sight so that there would still be sun penetration without it being overwhelmingly hot in the summer time. Other notable features include the two buildings, one to the southeast and one to the southwest. The building to the southeast would block out the early morning winter sun so it would be better if the windows on my building would be facing south so that they could collect the natural sunlight. Also its important to note that the trees are going to be bare in the winter, so at this point its hard to tell where the sun will penetrate in the winter, but the site might get more site then the diagram shows while still in the summer months.

Walking through Times Square at night, it’s hard to be unaware of the energy consumption of just those few blocks.  Signs and windows lit so bright, you could swear it was the daytime. Looking south out of my 12-story window and only seeing yellow rectangles floating orthogonally in the distance, describing the veiled outline of hundreds of buildings in which thousands of families are currently consuming energy. Growing up, I was always aware of the amount of energy consumed in New York City; however, it would be the blackout of 2003, during which, I began to understand the rapacious rate in which the residents devoured power. Instead of floating yellow rectangles indicating the jungle of buildings past my window, I could only distinguish black spires of the skyline piercing the navy sky. The floating rectangles had fallen to the ground in the form of blurred automobile lights fearfully navigating the once luminous city streets. The city was darkness against the night sky and all you could see was the moon.

Once the city regained power it swiftly returned to its old ways, radiating a luminous blanket that rested gently over the skyline, proving true New York’s reputation of refusing to sleep. As a budding fifth grader, these few August days left quite the impression on my young life, as I realized the depth to which we rely on energy. In school we addressed the recent event, talking about energy, where it came from, how we used it, the, and the negative effects our particular island had on the rest of the world. In rudimentary terms, we also discussed the ozone layer and the future of our world if we continued our current energy consumption. Corrupted by knowledge, the glowing rectangles outside my window transformed from tiny hints of life outside my apartment, to fiery eyes threatening to incinerate the natural resources and power that humans were so greedily expending.

My sudden awareness of energy consumption, although dramatized, was an important realization. And although it took a backseat to almost everything else in my seemingly complicated middle school life, it was that event that molded my interest in environmental design. New York City although constantly consuming energy, is producing many LEED projects and other energy aware building projects. These projects, although they cannot combat the power wasted in past years, can help to change the future trends of power consumption in New York City.

new York blackout

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