Environmental Surfing for Health, Productivity and a Resilient Future

Environmental Surfing for Health, Productivity and a Resilient Future

Presentation from the 8th VELUX Daylight Symposium that took place in Paris on 9 October 2019 by Vivian Loftness.

Energy and environmental effectiveness demands a critical commitment to celebrating the culture and climate inherent to place, to sailing over yachting, to surfing over jet skiing. To achieve carbon neutrality we need nature’s renewables – daylight, natural ventilation, natural cooling, passive solar heating. We need systems that are turned off as long as possible - buildings that ‘surf” through hours, days, months and seasons. We need advanced systems and indeed the Internet of Things (IoT) to maximize human engagement with natural conditioning.

Environmental surfing captures both the skill and the excitement of designing and operating our buildings and communities with the full complement of nature’s resources - abundant, renewable, and varying over time of day and season. Surfing reflects the thrill of working with nature as it changes, embracing the variations of time and place. The beauty of buildings that environmentally surf goes beyond energy, water and carbon, however, to support health, productivity, and a higher quality of life.

This presentation will introduce the strength of the research linking the design creativity of mixed mode ‘environmental surfing’ to our sustainable access to affordable energy, human health and productivity, and the regenerative powers of nature itself.

Vivian Loftness, FAIA, LEEDAP, is an internationally renowned researcher, author and educator focused on environmental design and sustainability, climate and regionalism in architecture, and the integration of advanced building systems for health and productivity. With over 30 years of industry and government research funding, she is a key member of Carnegie Mellon’s leadership in sustainability research and education, and contributor to the ongoing development of the Intelligent Workplace – a living laboratory of commercial building innovations for performance.


Her work has influenced national policy and building projects, including the Adaptable Workplace Lab at the U.S. General Services Administration and the Laboratory for Cognition at Electricity de France. In the past five years, Vivian has been recognized as a LEED Fellow, a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council and the Scott Institute, and one of 13 Stars of Building Science by the Building Research Establishment in the UK.

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