HeatHack lets the science-minded of all persuasions loose on a very interesting question: how can we make Edinburgh’s church halls, worship spaces, and community centres more comfortable on less energy use? These important community spaces are at risk as energy prices rise, because only commercial operators can afford to run and maintain them – but countless community groups rely on them. We have two goals: collecting the data that energy efficiency consultants and conservation architects need to design building retrofits, and helping property managers and building users understand how heating in these spaces works – which brings up academic research questions in engineering, architecture, computer science, business, and many other disciplines.
- work with students who are interested in these problems by supervising projects, providing data, and sharing our experiences in operating these difficult buildings. In the past, this has included both masters students in Sustainable Energy Systems and Informatics undergraduates.
- run exploration events to understand buildings that bring together students with people from the local community.
- design and build low cost versions of the kind of equipment needed for understanding these spaces, like temperature and relative humidity sensor networks, black globe thermometers, and omnidirectional anemometry loggers.
HeatHack initially started with a grant from Scientists in Congregations Scotland to two local churches. The grants were given to explore the interface between contemporary faith and science, and seeks to foster a deeper and better-informed conversation between scientists, clergy and congregations. Scientists in Congregations was funded by the John Templeton Foundation. We are grateful for their support. Via a previous University of Edinburgh initiative, we also have access to a larger pool of equipment and expertise than would be possible on our charity funding. This includes equipment bought by the School of Informatics specifically to help HeatHack grow faster and interest students from any of Edinburgh’s educational institutions. We thank them for this support, and look forward to welcoming all who come to join the fun.