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.
We occasionally run exploration events to understand buildings, as well as a “hackerspace” for any who is interested in our question: people from churches that want to understand their energy use, parents of children in activities in cold church halls who want to help, and people who just want to make stuff and have fun! We’re working on a sensor network that puts live temperature and humidity monitoring on the web, time lapse photography (for gas meters!), current sensing, data displays, and interactive stalls that convey the problem to the public – but we’re up for anything, as long as it’s interesting, fun, or helps people understand how buildings work. If you think you don’t know anything useful for our question, think again – past vital contributions have come from an expert knitter, dolls house builder, and angler who otherwise were new to it all.
HeatHack is a collaboration between between City of Edinburgh Methodist Church and Christ Church Morningside and is funded by Scientists in Congregations Scotland, which explores the interface between contemporary faith and science, and seeks to foster a deeper and better-informed conversation between scientists, clergy and congregations. They are in turn funded by the John Templeton Foundation. We are grateful for their support. Via Science of Church, a University of Edinburgh-led 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.