Walnut Street

I think my parent’s house in New Jersey incorporates some great examples of designing via systems thinking.  The house is oriented to face south, and there is a very old and large tree directly in front.  The relationship of the house to the deciduous tree creates an almost perfectly tuned system to its surroundings.  Since the tree is so large, it covers almost the entire roof of our house from sunlight at midday.  The tree also provides optimal shading from the sun at other times of the day because the sun has a natural path that arcs across the southern side of the sky.  During the winter, the tree looses its leaves and the allows southern sunlight to hit the facade of the house which was previously avoided during the summer.  In addition, the facade of the house is designed with large windows, allowing light to penetrate into the building interior.

In comparison to this passive system of climate control, my dad maintains a highly efficient active climate control system.  Due to the main thermometer being located on the fourth floor, the a/c system will run until the desired temperature is achieved on the top floor.  An natural inefficiency exists because cold air sinks, and energy trying to achieve a desired temperature on the top floor is wasted making the lower floors colder than necessary.  My dad corrects this system lag, making it more responsive by placing fans at each stair case.  The upwards airflow evens the temperature between floors, and the a/c system achieves the desired temperature quickly and using less power.  I think this is a great example of creating a responsive and efficient system by applying simple systems thinking.

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