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Windows provide energy-efficient heat and light in sustainable campus building
by Global Good News staff writer
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12 June 2012
One of the most important principles of sustainable design is the use of windows as sources of both light and heat.
The new Sustainable Living Center on the campus of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA showcases how windows can be used to great aesthetic and practical effect.
Jon Lipman, chief architect of the new building, recently described the function of several aspects of the building's exterior.
He started with the big south-facing windows.
Mr Lipman explained that in the winter, the south side of the building gets terrific sunlight, therefore the windows provide valuable heat and light.
In addition, the south side of the building is used as a greenhouse. This is because the building is a centre for Maharishi University of Management's Sustainable Living degree programme, and one essential component of the programme is to grow food organically. In a seasonal climate such as Iowa's, greenhouses are used. For this purpose, the entire south side is used as a demonstration greenhouse where students can grow and practise.
Mr Lipman added that though the south windows provide heat in the winter, in the summertime, the windows are shaded by the building's photovoltaic panels. Therefore, in the height of summer, almost all of the windows will be in shadow. But because of the angle of the photovoltaic panels, they shade none of the winter sunlight.
But the windows in the building are used primarily as natural and energy-efficient sources of light.
Mr Lipman said, 'We wanted this building to be lit completely internally by sunlight and all of the classes to be lit from two directions. This is a big challenge inside of a building.'
'That allows us to get all the solar light we want from the south through these monitors,' said Mr Lipman.
The creative solution involved using a monitor, or peaked roof, on the top of the building. The monitor runs east-west and so has a long south face completely lined with windows. This face lets south light during the wintertime deep into the core of the building while simultaneously allowing light from two directions.
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