Peter Dean

  • Finding Nature-Inspired Solutions for Energy Use Design Challenges in Engineering and Architecture

    A previous blog entry addressed the human role in containing entropy. This post examines real-world examples of addressing design challenges in engineering and architecture.

    Unfortunately, many engineering solutions to both past and current architectural and industrial design challenges have relied on abundant and cheap energy for their effectiveness. When energy is cheap and plentiful, using increased amounts of horsepower is a seductive default position when designing industrial systems and processes.

    A problem the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) experienced with a drinking water reservoir in 2005, involving a one-million-gallon open-air surface reservoir, serves as an instructive example.

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  • Finding Climate Solutions in Nature

    Natural laws, like the laws of thermodynamics, govern us all, and we ignore them at our peril. Nowhere is this more consequential, at the moment, than in dealing with climate change.

    Energy, in any form, is subject to the laws of thermodynamics. The First Law of Thermodynamics says energy cannot be created nor destroyed and that the amount of energy in the universe is a constant. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that all any physical systems trend towards disorder (entropy).

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