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19 January 2015: Intelligent Buildings

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...A Surprising Introduction

We only just managed to get everyone into Pushkin House. Just one of the good things about our regular London venue is audience engagement. As the room got more and more full, we welcomed Past President George Adams, Elected Council Member Colin Ashford, Terry Giles of CIBSE FM and Amy Longo, Chair of IET Surrey Branch.


Professor Derek Clements-Croome made immediate connections with people and quality of life, how our environmental design affects productivity, mood and well-being. But as well as a social benefits, Derek developed this into cultural connections with nature.  


And Derek was quick to point out Edward O Wilson's view "...we don’t just love all things in the natural world, but we are genetically connected to them. As humans we have a deep desire to connect with nature whenever possible". This was borne out by a presentation which was free from machines and where even concrete assumed a life of its own, with an ability to heal itself or absorb pollutants.


In Derek's view, there is a big difference between "smart" and "intelligent" buildings. He duly delivered a fascinating tour of developments arguably beyond building physics into the realms of building physiology, with some radical alternatives to today's methods of heating, cooling and ventilating buildings. Improving microclimates in cities, intelligent facades, smart glazing (just like the film Bladerunner), bioluminescent lighting, electricity-generating "digital walls", encapsulated conduits in structures for heating and cooling media, nano-technology, the potential of graphene and even artificial leafs generating hydrogen in water-filled walls.

Although the reasons for more-sustainable buildings and the productivity benefits were clear, the key message - and even a reassurance - was that many of these developments could improve quality of life.  


The discussions continued well after Derek's absorbing talk. We were also grateful to Past-President George Adams for presenting Richard Seagrief's well-deserved Bronze Medal.