Sustainability Monitoring With Berkeley Students At Our Prototype Homes


Last week marked another visit from our friends at UC Berkeley. Sustainability monitoring was the name of the game for the visit as Katy Van Lieshout and Baris Ozgen return with some familiar and new faces to take a look at the sustainability features of our prototype homes now that we’ve got residents inside.

Mechanical Engineering Professor Alice Agogino and student Stephen Whiting also came along for the day to discuss sustainability monitoring as well as surveying the residents of the home and looking into future collaborative projects for the Pinoleville Pomo Nation and Berkeley. Alice’s return was a long time coming as she and the original Berkeley CARES team helped throughout the intensive co-design process of the Prototype Homes.

The Sustainability Monitoring

We kicked off the day with a quick history lesson as PPN Leadership and Alice recalled the design process while examining the finished home. At that same time Katy began installing the sustainability monitoring equipment. Much like the previous visit, they’ll be monitoring air quality temperature, humidity and light with two different units (depicted above), one of which is the culturally-inspired “abalone shell” unit.

With help from a 3D printer, the design was created by Katy and features a mini-solar cell to keep the unit powered and monitoring air quality 24/7. The two units will ultimately measure temperature, humidity and light within the house with the goal of analyzing the efficiency of the design. This will be particularly useful now that we’ve got baseline data from the empty home to compare to the data gathered now with residents in the home.

Future Projects and Collaboration

But the visit wasn’t just about monitoring either. While Katy did her thing Stephen spoke with PPN Leadership and Citizens regarding their ability to access the Internet within the Pinoleville boundaries as well as Pinoleville Heights housing addition in Lakeport. This could lead to an interesting collaboration as Stephen’s work focuses on Internet relay systems designed to bring access to people in under-served areas without Internet access.

Another opportunity arose from the session, too. Baris also took advantage of the visit to look at the lighting systems within the home to determine if there’s a way to add an Internet component to the controls to give the residents more control of the lighting systems within the home while conserving energy. Some of these ideas are in the early stages, but we’ll continue to look for ways to combine the skills and opportunities brought to the table by both groups.

Stick with us for updates as Katy and other return to gather equipment and begin discussing the findings of the monitoring project.