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Topic: Heat

[Episode #208] – Vernacular Architecture

Can ancient architectural and building techniques help us create comfortable spaces without consuming energy in today's world?

Our guest in this episode thinks so.

Dr. Sandra Piesik is an award-winning architect, author, and scientist with extensive experience in what is now called “vernacular architecture.” Among many other things, she specializes in agitating for legislation supporting sustainability and nature-based solutions to the climate challenge.

She has published two books on vernacular architecture, including Habitat—Vernacular Architecture for a Changing Climate, published in May of this year. In it, she curates the work of an international team of more than one hundred experts across a diverse range of disciplines, who examine what the traditions of vernacular architecture and its regional craftspeople around the world can teach us about creating a more sustainable future. With over 1000 illustrations, the book reveals how people and cultures have used indigenous materials and construction techniques in all five of the planet’s climate zones to create comfortable built environments, and it stresses the importance of preserving disappearing craftsmanship and local knowledge before it is lost forever.

In today’s conversation, we discuss what ‘vernacular architecture’ is, what some of the specific techniques are, how those techniques could be used today, and what’s preventing us from using them. We also discuss the role of vernacular architecture within the broader context of sustainable development, and what a holistic approach to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals might look like.

Geek rating: 1


[Episode #119] – Energy Basics Parts 1–3

In response to listener demand, we are launching a new mini-series on the Energy Basics. If you have found yourself occasionally challenged to follow some of the more technical conversations we have here, or even if you just want to brush up on the fundamentals, this mini-series is for you! We hope these episodes will give you a bit more familiarity with the terms and concepts of energy, and help to fill in some of the knowledge that you were never offered in school.

Each of these first three mini-episodes are about 20 minutes in length. Part 1 is available to all listeners. Parts 2 and 3 are available to full subscribers only - jump between each part using chapters in your podcast app.

Episode 119.1 - Energy Basics Part 1 - What is Energy? - What energy is at the atomic level, and different classifications of energy. [00:00 to 21:58]

Episode 119.2 - Energy Basics Part 2 - Energy Conversion - How and why we convert energy from one form to another. [21:58 to 43:23]

Episode 119.3 – Energy Basics Part 3 - Energy Uses - The ways we use energy and the various forms of energy. [43:23 to 1:04:41]

Geek rating: 1


[Episode #95] – Powering the world with RE

Can we run the world on renewables alone? Various researchers have tried to model how a given country might run a grid using mostly renewables, oftentimes finding that carbon-negative technologies, advanced nuclear power, and even coal power plants equipped with CCS will be a part of the solution set. But no one has produced a comprehensive model that shows how we can run the world on renewables alone, while accurately modeling the weather and grid conditions at a very discrete scale, at hourly resolution, using data on the renewable resources in each region, and determining how that would work while selecting the least-cost resources… until now.

In this episode we speak with a researcher from Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland, one of an international team of 14 scientists who have spent the past four and a half years performing research, data analysis, and technical and financial modeling to prove that a global transition to 100% renewable energy is economically competitive with the current fossil and nuclear-based system, and could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the energy system to zero even before 2050. This first-of-its-kind study outlines how the world could limit warming to 1.5°C with a cost-effective, global, 100% renewable energy system that does not use negative carbon technologies, and provides all the energy needed for electricity, heat, transport and desalination by 2050.

Geek rating: 6