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Design + Energy Initiatives

January 7, 2010   |   School, Projects

The development of renewable, cleaner, and more efficiently produced and consumed forms of energy, is among the most important challenges we face today. The problem is global but the solutions and their implications are more often discovered and experienced locally. Given Kentucky’s vast array of energy resources, the College of Design believes that we have an obligation and an opportunity to meet these challenges by providing innovative solutions that will benefit our state and indeed all those who seek cleaner, cheaper and more efficiently produced and consumed forms of energy. Innovative solutions arise when knowledge is creatively applied to known problems. Design has a crucial role to play in this process, for design is among the most important engines of innovation. Design is not only the final designed product—a table, building, urban plan or landscape—it is also the design thinking process itself, the very means by which a whole variety of plausible solutions are created, tested and transformed into innovations.

The College of Design has entered strategic partnerships with a number of energy researchers, providers and manufacturers, to launch “Design + Energy Initiatives.” The focus will be on developing innovative, energy-related design solutions. On May 8, we hosted an exhibition that featured projects from the first year of this new initiative, which included the following:

The Henderson Project - The centerpiece of the exhibition was a selection of large-scale (8 x 10 feet) photographs of HMPL1, a recently retired coal-burning power plant in Henderson, Kentucky. The photographs, by recognized architecture photographer Frank Doering, inaugurated the multi-year research and design initiative, the “Henderson Project,” which will develop strategic design proposals intended to make Henderson a more competitive player in an increasingly knowledge-based, energy-focused economy. The focus will be on developing proposals that will adaptively reuse the recently decommissioned HPML1 plant and the scenic Ohio River waterfront in Henderson.

Solar Decathlon - One of 20 finalists selected by the US Department of Energy, The College of Design, in collaboration with the College of Engineering and College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky, designed and built an energy-efficient, solar house, which was displayed in Washington, D.C. in fall 2009. Models, drawings, animations, and mock-ups of the house were exhibited.

Project Aeolus - In collaboration with the Kentucky Science Corporation, the Center for Applied Energy Research, and the Center for Manufacturing at the University of Kentucky, the College of Design mapped and modeled targeted sites in Lexington and Louisville for wind capture. Results of the mapping were displayed. 

Urban Renewable Furniture Prototypes - The design workshop used common materials that are often discarded and end up in trash dumps as primary material for urban furniture. Prototypes created in the studio were displayed.

Fly Ash Furniture Prototypes - In collaboration with the Center for Applied Energy Research, the furniture design workshop produced full-scale furniture prototypes that use fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion captured in chimneys and used as a partial replacement for cement in concrete. Prototypes created in the studio were displayed.