Thursday, January 17, 2008
Energy Efficient, Accessible, Inflatable?
In a recent meeting, my mentor, Professor Dagshigdorj, apparently struggling for a theme about which to seek advice, asked; "What can we do about the smoke problem?"
Western Ulaanbaatar, where our school is located in a peri-urban ger district sprawl, is particularly beset by smog problems in winter. The poor air quality is unhealthy and visibility is very poor at the current -20C temperatures. In the absence of wind, the basin setting of UB, with its five surrounding mountains, contains the low lying smog created by the city heating, traffic and power stations, and usually attributed to the ger districts' many coal fired stoves. "Did I have any relevant experience in the developed world?" I thought quickly, Graz has similar air quality problems, also the implementation of London's Clean Air Act in 1956 (and over the last 50 years) would be relevant, as would the ozone hole in Australia and subsequent carbon minimisation legislation in the construction industry.. a very broad topic. We resolved to unravel and discuss these further.
Our college had also recently been called upon by World Vision's local Bayankhoshuu district branch to advise on developing a model Energy Efficient House. Passive design, active technologies and materials would all be taken into account. In this school, however, Mongolian professionals' knowledge of techniques of auditing energy consumption and building efficiency at design stages seem to be limited. Life-cycle costing, to account for payback time of energy efficient design, also appears to be an unfamiliar concept. We need to develop this capacity in the school staff, but time is short.
As a coincidence, it emerged that World Vision is planning to develop an Independent Living Centre, potentially duplicating efforts with the Mongolian Wheelchair Users Association (MTIX), mentioned in the previous blog entry.
Weekly subject group curriculum development meetings have now been planned, but postponed. Tonight I hope to meet representatives of the Blue Sun Contemporary Art Group, who this Summer in UB are to show the inflatable works of Ana Rewakowicz, a Canadian artist colleague whose new monograph I am currently reviewing.