Heat is Where it’s At.
“There is a detectable difference between the past and the future only when there is the flow of heat. With no heat, the future behaves exactly like the past- there is no time.”
—Carlo Rovelli. Seven Brief Lessons in Physics
Every moment of every day of our life is spent adjusting for the thermal conditions of the environment. At night, we pull up the covers. Before we leave the house, we select the appropriate clothing to match the outdoor conditions, and at work we turn on the air conditioning to mitigate the 92-degree outdoor temperature.
The body’s core temperature is stable at about 98°F. In an outdoor environment with a temperature between 65° and 102°F, a naked body, depending on activity, can maintain a comfortable level of thermal stability. When it is too hot, we sweat; cold, we shiver.
Any fluctuations above or below that range, and we must alter the environment around our bodies to be ‘comfortable.’ Comfort is not only a ‘feel good’ thing, it is at the core of survival of our species. So, next time you reach out to the thermostat, remember, you are reaching out to your life support system.
So, how does this knowledge affect your ability to make money?
As building professionals, we are the creators of indoor thermal comfort. We provide people with dwellings that make thermal comfort effortless—and hopefully, without them even knowing it is happening. An award-winning design has little merit if it does not have balanced indoor thermal comfort.
What I have observed, in my 35+ years as a building contractor, the prime focus, and selling point, of a new or retrofit building has been:
First: How much does it cost?
Second: “Curbside appeal.” How does it look?
Third: What kind of amenities and finish details does it have?
The client assumes the thermal comfort will be there.
Curbside appeal happens within minutes. Thermal comfort recognition happens over four seasons. Maybe that is why it is easier to sell the curbside? We know how to offer greater thermal comfort at much lower annual operational cost. Our challenge is; how do we sell one of the most essential and key and invisible, ingredients of a good dwelling? If we can crack this code, the party and the money will start to flow.
“Feel (our nerve endings) is what tells us if the physics is working”
A common error in contemporary building is thinking if we get all the latest, greatest parts, we will wind up with a better building. Not so. Without a deeper understanding of how all the physical properties of materials work together, it can be easy to not optimize the overall performance of the building. It is wise to put building science ahead of building design and or material choices.
Right Living and Low Watts
In Buddhism, Right Living is about finding work that satisfies not only your money requirements, but fulfills your need to be part of the greater good of humanity and in turn, serves the health of the planet.
Fuel in the USA has always been relatively cheap. Cheap fuel takes the fun out of energy conservation. So why are we so excited about better light bulbs?
Humans thrive when we work together. It adds an extra pizazz to the task at hand. Team work challenges the mind to be open and flexible. When I go to conferences, meetings and sessions, the excitement in the air is not only about new gadgets, but more so, I think, about a community of people—builders, planners, designers—working together, not so much for individual gain, but to have the rare opportunity to share ideas and work together for something greater than an eye-pleasing building, but rather a better building. Sure, we all have to make money, but we can make it and be inspired at the same time. We can make money while depositing some of it into the future health of our planet.
A friend of mine, Peter Waring, once said: “I have six grandchildren who are counting on “Baba” to make a difference.”
Terry Nordbye, May 21, 2018.
Terry's bio breaks down like this: