On Tuesday, February 18 2014, TU Delft students and staff were introduced to a new program at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering with a hack-a-thon.

TU Delft students and staff from each faculty were invited to learn about the SusLab, a new pan-European laboratory that innovates multidisciplinary solutions to today’s home ecology problems. The event began with a lunch lecture, which was followed by a mini hack-a-thon. The hack-a-thon was designed to acquaint participants with the specific methods and tools that the SusLab employs throughout its four participating countries: The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. SusLab and the Delft Environment Initiative organized the afternoon at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering.

Rather than being a single, physical lab, the SusLab consists of a consortium of living labs and sensor networks in each participating country. In the Netherlands, the living lab is located in Rotterdam, at the Heijplaat. It is a prototype home that sustains an environmentally friendly living situation. In addition, sensors within inhabited residences send energy usage data to a centralised database for future study within the SusLab. Similar sensor data is gathered and sent to the same database from the three other participating countries.

The hack-a-thon was designed to encourage participants to find ways to save energy in the home and eventually create tools to use and analyze the energy usage data. TU Delft’s hack-a-thon is one of many events that SusLab is organising in the participating countries. Similar workshops aim to develop a set of standard tools and “pool knowledge” for SusLab researchers to use in their future studies. A previous hack-a-thon in the UK produced an energy app to digitally keep track of energy usage.

The Delft Environment Initiative, who co-organized the event, is a research program throughout all TU Delft faculties that aims to answer the question, “How can we deal with the environment in sustainable way?” From studying water and weather patterns in Africa to planning the next climate-proof city, the Delft Environment Initiative includes researchers throughout the university and promotes education in their research areas.

There are eleven partners overall, including TU Delft, the Chalmers Institute of Technology and the Royal College of Art in the United Kingdom. Researcher Dan Lockton represented the Royal College of Art at the afternoon’s event.

The SusLab organisers called the event “successful,” having turned up several “innovative ideas.” 

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