Gallery: Architect Ryan Enschede Tackles Climate Change Through Sustain...

Ryan Enschede believes that we have lost our understanding of how to build in relation to the climate, and the Brooklyn-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 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.

“I am an architect pursuing sustainable architectural 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, Enschede has become an expert at “implementing rooftop photovoltaic solar arrays 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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1 Comment

  1. lazyreader May 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Many architects preach sustainable development. But given the modern actions people do today in their life, their job, etc. If its a multi story building in the city, we’re not gonna keep it cool with a 8 foot thick masonry wall. How could the building even stand up without steel or concrete. We can’t build it out of clay, acid rain would destroy it. Adobe homes seem like a good idea in hot dry climates. I’ve seen some of them, they look more like adobe mansions, far from the “traditional”. Many even have air conditioning and use decorative elements found in neo-traditional houses found in the east to appeal to home buyers. It’s vernacular architecture being preached by technology oriented designers. Now I admit some of what they talk about makes sense, like solar orientation or some natural ventilation. Thom Mayne tried many non-gadget related techniques in his San Francisco federal building. The building features elevators which stop on every third floor to promote employee interaction and health. Users of the building exit the elevators and walk either up or down one floor via stairs. There are, however, also elevators which stop on every floor for users unable or unwilling to use stairs. Those elevators we’re for the handicapped employees who now suffer from a shortage of elevator access. Workers seek to relieve the heat by opening windows, which not only sends papers flying, but, depending on their proximity to the opening, makes creating a stable temperature for all workers near impossible… some employees must use umbrellas to keep the sun out of their cubicles.