Engineering & Science

Air Source Heat Pumps – carbon friend or foe?

by Mel Starrs on September 6, 2011

in Renewables

Looking back through the archives I seem to have been remiss and never written properly on the topic of ASHP (air source heat pumps). A topic dear to my heart as it exemplifies the quandaries that we find ourselves in when it comes to a low carbon future – and all that entails including energy […]


Via Adam Tinworth, I’ve found this ace TED talk (a short one – less than 7 minutes) from Catherine Mohr on embodied energy. She starts with paper towels and finishes with her new build house in Silicon Valley. The best part for me is towards the end at around 5:10 where she looks at the […]


The BBC managed to ire me on Sunday with this news item on vocational training at 14. I was in the car and the news (on Radio 2) kept insisting on calling engineering a ‘vocation’. No wonder engineering has an image problem. They could have chosen to talk about actual vocations, such as hairdressing, car […]


Waste to energy for London

by Mel Starrs on November 3, 2009

in Renewables

Last month saw the issue of the report ‘Where there’s muck, there’s brass‘ (pdf, 34 pages) from the London Assembly. Waste to energy is a topic which remains on periphery of many building services engineers range of expertise – and yet we are expected to have opinions and knowledge of the technology. Would we be […]


Audacious kite powered electricity generation

by Mel Starrs on April 2, 2009

in Renewables

Thanks to whoever alerted me to this great, short TED video. The goal is to harness wind power at 1,000 – 15,000m in the troposhere (much above where wind turbines currently operate). Which reminds me, I must dig out the flexifoil now the evenings are brighter… Saul Griffith: Inventing a super-kite to tap the energy […]


This post is inspired by a conversation I had on Twitter on Sunday afternoon with @dbourbon, @SuButcher and @Revit3D. Yes, I know I bang on about Twitter far too often, but seriously. LOVE it. Revit3D wrote a blog post which I have tried to follow up here. The conversation started along the lines of debating […]


Visualising the skills shortage

by mel starrs on August 26, 2008

in The Profession

I’ve talked before about the skills shortage in our industry, but the graphic I used then didn’t illustrate quite as well as this one why we are feeling the effects quite so strongly.  Look at that blip around 60 years old.  These guys (and gals) are retiring or have just retired or will in the […]


Global air conditioning

by mel starrs on June 20, 2008

in Engineering & Science

It’s not like me to talk about air conditioning – I spend most of my time trying to design it out. However, I found myself pondering the international market and what else is a blog for, than a place to throw out your half-baked thoughts to the world. Feel free to jump in and correct […]


Chelker reservoir wind turbines

by mel starrs on June 17, 2008

in Renewables

Firstly, let me recommend a new (to me) blog from the Construction Journal camp (who use Movable Type rather than WordPress, but I won’t hold that against them) – The Greenhouse by Paul Howard. We’ve had a conversation over the past couple of days about Chelker Reservoir and the wind turbines there. The long and […]


Developments in Degree Days

by mel starrs on May 21, 2008

in Building Physics

Readers may have missed this comment posted recently by Martin B, so I’ve reprinted it in full here: Another belated follow up on your post (original post here): we just recently launched Degree, a free site for generating degree days: Since writing that article about problems with degree days, many of which are […]