Thermal control of interior spaces is largely regulated by mechanical ventilation systems, which contribute to the built environment's enormous share of carbon emissions. Especially in regions where temperatures swing drastically from day to night, peak loads strain grid infrastructure and produce untenable energy costs. Alternative strategies to mitigate energy demand for heating or cooling utilize inherent characteristics of the natural environment. Many such tactics employ material properties in order to achieve thermal comfort without carbon intensive energy consumption. The thermal performance of phase change materials (PCMs) to store energy in the form of latent heat, provokes the exploration of related strategies in building application simulations. While many forms of PCMs exist in the building market, many of them include paraffins and other synthetic materials that have potential harmful effects on humans, in addition to environmentally taxing methods of production. While organic and synthetic products exist for use in building applications, the use of crude organic materials as PCMs is not widely implemented. The study considers commonly accessible phase change materials as options for exploring latent heat potential for controlling air temperature. Unrefined coconut oil is a naturally occurring phase change material that exists as a solid at an ambient room temperature, but liquifies as temperature increases. Like other phase change materials, the coconut oil is capable of absorbing heat from the air as it changes from solid to liquid. As air temperatures begin to cool, the oil releases that heat back into the air. The study examines how this particular material can affect air temperature in a controlled environment when a given amount of heat is introduced.
Griffin is a current graduate student at the School of Architecture, pursuing a Masters of Architecture. His interest in public participation in architecture drew him to the discipline, while the additional lenses of sustainability and equity in the built environment are issues that have become important throughout his architectural education.
Laurette is Master of Architecture candidate at UNCC. She is interested in civic and public realms of architecture. Specifically, she is interested in creating justice in the built environment within the penal system and how architecture can improve conditions for those living in detention. She looks to work for a firm specializing in prison, school, or hospital design.