Heat people, not buildings

Published in Energy by

Stop heating buildings, start heating people. That is, in short, the idea behind Local Warming, a new, data-driven, personalized form of climate control devised by WDCD14 speaker Carlo Ratti and his team at MIT Senseable City Lab. Local Warming is currently on display at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale.

Commercial buildings in the US account for 20 percent of the country’s energy consumption. Large quantities of energy are wasted on empty spaces and non-occupied workstations. Local Warming aims to challenge this status quo by providing people with direct and localized warmth. Through the use of sophisticated motion sensing, an infrared energy beam follows the user’s movement in the space. Heat is provided only there where it is needed, thus avoiding the inefficiencies of ambient heating.

Ratti and his team even foresee possibilities for outside use of the system. ‘It provides the ability to manipulate unenclosed environments – in an efficient manner – to a degree allowing us to utterly blur the architectural boundary between interior and exterior beyond the removal of physical obstructions,’ the inventors write.

Rendering of Local Warming. Infrared heat beams follow  the people in a room

Rendering of Local Warming. Infrared heat beams follow the people in a room

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