Heating/ventilation at EcoVillage
From: David Hungerford (dghungerforducdavis.edu)
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 1995 15:59:10 -0600
The radiant-floor common house in Ithaca may be subject to "overheating" 
in the summer, but that shouldn't be a problem if people don't expect it 
to be air conditioned inside.  

Certainly you can reduce heat gain by 
making sure the windows are shaded in summer with deep enough overhangs, 
or in their absence, trellises with nice deciduous vines (grapes are 
great for this, non-allergenic too).  I hope you don't have any 
West-facing windows, cover them well if you do.  As for ventilation, how 
about a whole-house fan??  Crack the windows to the security setting, set 
the timer for 2-3 hours between 3am and sunrise, and you'll cool down 
whatever thermal mass you have (including sheetrock and the furniture, as 
well as the floors.)  I don't know how cool it gets in Ithaca at night, 
but this should allow the CH to remain quite comfortable if your nightime 
temp drops below 70 F.  Of course, you'll need to close the windows in 
the morning.  I'm also assuming the building is well insulated and has 
good windows. 

Internal heat gain may be a problem.  People and appliances generate a 
lot of heat.  You may need to mitigate by preparing "cool" meals in the 
hottest part of the summer (hearty salads; cold pasta; cold soups; bread 
from a local bakery; etc) doing any heating the night before (i.e. boil 
the pasta for a pasta salad.)  You may also need to enhance air movement 
in the dining room with ceiling fans.  If you have a commercial fridge, 
you may want to think about putting it in a separate room or ventilating 
it to the outside (they generate an enormous amount of heat.) 

As for my initial comment about what people expect, the simple fact is 
that the power to control the thermal environment such that it is 
possible to maintain a constant temperature has created the expectation 
(unkown 50 years ago) that constant temperature is some sort of "normal" 
state of nature.  Hence the a/c engineers (including Ithaca's consultant) 
look at their tables, run out their numbers, and say that your "building 
will overheat." Well, yes!!Compared to an air-conditioned building!!  
But, is being warmer than what an air conditioner would provide 
necessarily "over" heating?  Well, certainly you want to be cooler in 
hot weather, but you can achieve that by just keeping the heat OUT, 
bringing in as much cool as possible, and coping with the rest by 
changing your behavior.  Nature's provisions for cooling the human body 
work pretty well.  It is simply a (bizarre when you think about it) 
social expectation that we should be able to wear wool business 
suits in the middle of summer without sweating, and that sweating is 
something we shouldn't ever do.  It's also a fairly recent phenomenon that 
people want to cook winter foods in the summer.  Cripes, so 
your common house gets to 80 f,  you need to wear shorts, and you go 2 
months without lasagne, BFD.

Good luck bucking normality,

David Hungerford
Muir Commons--Living without A/C in California's central valley and 
wearing shorts all summer.

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