If you work in a big office, then you know it’s always super hot in the building during the winter and freezing during the summer. It’s a major suck — of energy, that is.
A team of researchers at MIT want to localize temperature control to reduce energy consumption and make individuals more comfortable. Carlo Ratti, of MIT’s Senseable City Lab, and his team are developing Local Warming, a prototype system that uses LED bulbs to beam direct rays of infrared light onto people.
The current iteration of the concept, which will be on display at the Venice Architecture Biennale until November, consists of a large infrared bulb surrounded by mirrors. The systems senses when a human is present and then rotates the mirrors to direct the heat onto that individual.
“It’s almost like having a your personal sun,” Ratti told Wired.
Such a system would work best in spacious buildings or lobbies populated by only a few people. Currently such spaces are heated by vents or radiators that warm the entire room regardless of how many people occupy it. Decentralizing heating could radically change the way architects think about design, too.
According to the team’s report, commercial buildings account for 20 percent of the national energy consumption. And Ratti thinks his Local Warming solution can reduce energy consumption up to 90 percent when there are just two people in a room.
It could also reduce complaints from workers about indoor temperature being too hot or too cold. With Local Warming, the temperature could be just right.
See the video below.