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Architect Ryan Enschede Tackles Climate Change Through Sustainable Building in NYC

Posted By Will Giron On May 31, 2011 @ 12:20 pm In Architecture,Energy | 1 Comment

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Ryan Enschede [3] believes that we have lost our understanding of how to build in relation to the climate, and the Brooklyn [4]-based architect and designer has dedicated his career to changing that mindset. Enschede’s work centers around the idea that architectural design and construction principles should be based on factors like solar energy, regional climate, and the changing seasons. He caught our attention because of his solar array projects [5] throughout New York City, and recently, we had a chance to sit down and chat with Enschede about his design philosophy and his current work.

 solar array brooklyn, solar array nyc,  Edward Mazria, passive house, passive solar house, green energy, climate based design, Photovoltaic Solar Arrays,

“I am an architect pursuing sustainable architectural [6]solutions adapted to NYC’s climate and built conditions,” says Enschede. He adds, “I’m increasingly convinced that we need to address energy more, and thereby climate change, both not particularly well understood. A lot of mistakes are not being understood as mistakes.”

Enschede believes that the majority of these issues unfortunately arise due to a lack of understanding of traditional design principles, and over-dependence on machinery, a handicap which Enschede dubs, “mechanical conditioning.” He gives the example of a variety of construction errors often used in green buildings, such as the placement of skylights. He explains how many buildings use skylights which are not properly installed in relation to the sun’s trajectory, and in turn, can actually be detrimental to energy efficiency overall. The same is also true for building facades, which are also often not built in accordance to the sun’s path during changing seasons.

Not taking these factors into consideration exposes certain elements of the building to higher levels of solar radiation, which can be especially uncomfortable during summer months. Enschede proposes paying attention to these variables, which when taken into account, will reject solar heat in the summer and distribute solar energy heating during the winter. This will create a certain level of independence from mechanical devices.

Enschede strives to deliver these environmental considerations to all his clients. Through a collaborative effort with Aeon Solar [7], Enschede has become an expert at “implementing rooftop photovoltaic solar arrays [8] in New York City’s unique and difficult environment.” Enschede has also used his expertise to provide photovoltaic solar systems for both commercial and residential use, including NYC’s largest residential PV solar system on Dumont Avenue in Brooklyn. He was worked on about three dozen arrays throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

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Enschede’s design principles aren’t new. As far back as the 1970s, Edward Mazria [9] also proposed something similar in his book, The Passive Solar Energy Book [10]: A complete Guide to Passive Solar Home, Greenhouse and Building Design. Enschede’s core work concerns climate response, energy efficiency, and how to implement these principles in all of his design work. He has used these principles in his proposal, “The Ten Step Program to End Energy Addiction [11]” for the Metropolis Next Generation Design Competition [12] where he participated in designing a government building in LA.

Here he creates a low-tech daylight distribution layout, which uses the vast amount of visible light contained in direct sunlight. He proposes that instead of depending on “band-aids” like automated interior blinds and sensor/control systems, which do not address the specific underlying problems in office buildings, one instead use sunlight distribution methods to better align with seasonal sun positions.

Enschede’s main concern with environmental sustainability efforts is to make the planet a better place for humans. “Most conversations are centered around the earth but not on preserving humans. I prefer the word sustainable because it’s more specific and tangible.” Enschede states that in regards to human interaction with nature, we need to bring “back that awareness, that understanding of our inseparability from our environment is an important part of sustainability that I don’t ever hear discussed.”

Yet despite these modern day shortcomings, in his “Manifesto for New York City [13]” he writes, “New York can lead the way for America, and America can lead the way for the rest of the world.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Images © Ryan Enschede


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[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://inhabitat.com/nyc/architect-ryan-enschede-tackles-climate-change-through-sustainable-building-in-nyc/

[3] Ryan Enschede: http://ryanenschede.com/

[4] Brooklyn: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/brooklyn/

[5] solar array projects: http://ryanenschede.com/architectural-portfolio/rooftop-solar-nyc/

[6] sustainable architectural : http://inhabitat.com/nyc/tag/green-building

[7] Aeon Solar: http://www.aeonsolar.com/

[8] rooftop photovoltaic solar arrays: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/brooklyns-broadway-stages-installs-the-largest-private-solar-roof-in-nyc/

[9] Edward Mazria: http://inhabitat.com/nyc../../interview-ed-mazria-from-architecture-2030/

[10] The Passive Solar Energy Book: http://www.amazon.com/Passive-Solar-Energy-Book-Greenhouse/dp/0878572376

[11] The Ten Step Program to End Energy Addiction: http://ryanenschede.com/architectural-portfolio/federal-office-building-la/

[12] Metropolis Next Generation Design Competition: http://www.metropolismag.com/nextgen/

[13] Manifesto for New York City: http://ryanenschede.com/writing/manifesto-for-new-york-city/

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