Pranav Hardas

Pranav Hardas

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
MS in Mechanical Engineering

There are two reasons why I got involved in GRoW Buffalo project. First, I am specifically attracted towards design project with a theme of sustainability.  Sustainable design is a prime agenda of today’s industry. For Solar Decathlon, sustainability is not just a theme but a core requirement and that is both interesting and challenging for me. Secondly, we, engineers, love to design and as a student there is nothing better than to see your design perform for real at such a large scale. This project gives us an opportunity to display our design on a global level. This unique exposure to the professional world has been a key factor for my involvement in the project GRoW Buffalo.

GRoW Home, for me, is a highly efficient, sustainable, and marvelous piece of art, or is going to be a masterpiece by architects and engineers. Its a result of countless hours of thought process to make GRoW Home look simple, and make it perform as efficient as possible at minimum expenditure.

I have been working on designing mechanical systems of the house mostly HVAC which includes performing heating and cooling load calculations, sizing the equipment of HVAC systems etc. The other important part of my work is the building performance simulation. The aim of building performance simulation is to know exactly how the building would react comfort wise in California as well as Buffalo climate and optimize the building envelop. We are playing with permutation and combinations with 16 parameters such as shading options, passive ventilation, characteristics of insulation materials, conducting 5 to 10 building performance simulations daily to figure out which would work the optimal.

The greatest opportunity in this project is to be able to go as precise as possible on analysis of mechanical systems. We are evaluating multiple ways to maintain comfort in the house which is almost 1.5 tons of cooling load during the competition. The challenging part now we are addressing is how to strategically reuse and reject the heat extracted by HVAC system during competition that would reduce the electrical loads on the house and at the same time would not add much against the affordability contest.

During designing of HVAC systems, I got an opportunity to consult people with different thought processes for the same design questions: First was professors with really deep research background and other was professionals who have been making these systems work for past 20-25 years . Now, it is really amazing to see how differently yet persuasively both react to the same problem. It not only gave me a bettter chance to understand the HVAC systems but also gave a glimpse of how the life could be if I chose my career in either direction. I think that was a quite rare experience I could not get anywhere else.