Three projects selected for research using the campus as a lab
Three new projects aimed at exploring sustainability, energy and the environment on the Princeton campus have received funding from the Dean for Research Innovation Fund for the Campus as a Lab. This program supports bold new ideas that involve the use of the campus as a laboratory for scientific, engineering, humanistic, artistic or social science research.
The funding is made possible through contributions from the Office of the Dean for Research, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the High Meadows Foundation Sustainability Fund, the Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Office of the Dean of the College. Projects involving undergraduate students can receive up to $15,000 for research, while those conducted by graduate students or postdoctoral researchers can receive up to $75,000.
Indoor-outdoor environmental sensing
Air pollution is linked to many human health problems, but today's buildings often are not designed to account for the exchange of indoor and outdoor air, each containing different contaminants. To understand the dynamic interplay between indoor and outdoor environments, and use this information to improve building design, Kelly Caylor, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Princeton Environmental Institute, and Forrest Meggers, assistant professor of architecture and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, will deploy a network of sensors throughout campus. Students will build the sensors using off-the-shelf components, and the resulting data will be shared with the Office of Sustainability to inform future decisions on how to improve air quality on campus.
Earth zero-carbon structures
One of the earliest known building materials, soil has experienced a resurgence in popularity as a sustainable alternative to concrete. Although adobe and other earth-based construction materials are popular in dry climates, the suitability of earth as a building material in New Jersey's humid climate has not been explored. Sigrid Adriaenssens, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, will lead a project to test the suitability of "rammed earth" construction, which involves tightly packing the earth into frames to build walls and other structures. Under Adriaenssens' guidance, students will build a curved wall on the Princeton's campus. The team will evaluate the ideal curvature of the walls, and design and test erosion protection systems such as overhangs, dripping stones and coating with lime. The students will monitor the durability of the structures over the next year to determine the potential for soil as a building material in Princeton.
Light pollution campus survey
Despite efforts to curb light pollution on the Princeton campus, many areas still experience unwanted illumination that wastes energy and blocks nighttime views of the stars. Gaspar Bakos, associate professor of astrophysical sciences, will lead a project to map the night-time illumination of the campus to identify areas in need of attention. The project will build on an ongoing senior thesis project, conducted by undergraduate Stephen Barton (Class of 2016), to map light pollution from the ground. The new project will use aerial monitoring to identify campus areas where lighting can be improved, for example by adding shielding and modern LED technology. Bakos hopes that Princeton University will become a leader as a light-pollution-free campus.