This is a bit embarrassing because I was kind of a groupie fan when I met this man at Rocky Mountain Green. When I found out he was registered for the conference I was hoping I would meet him. Then it kind of became my goal for the day.
I met one of his employees who told me he would be there later in the day. I asked Mandy who had told me she knew him to scout him out for me, but then I also went around at happy hour looking for him and finally I read his name tag and introduced myself! Mandy had told him I was looking for him, so at least he had some warning.
Peter did his undergrad work at Carleton College (1995). This is one of those very good small schools across the USA that has a balanced liberal arts and science curriculum. We have a very good friend who also graduated from there in the late 60’s. And our son-in-law went to Grinnell in Iowa, a similar great school.
Peter Ellis wrote an excellent paper about trombe walls for his Master’s Thesis at University of Illinois in 2003. He compared the data from the seminal Los Alamos Trombe wall experiments in the late 70’s with the models in Energy Plus. (which he pronounces TROMB–how I originally thought it was pronounced but was corrected, he said it is French and he is pretty sure it would not have a BEE at the end!)
Energy Plus is energy modeling tool from NREL. He chose data from the Los Alamos experiments by narrowing it to just four consecutive days of sunny weather and reproduced the outcomes with the analysis provided by the Energy Plus software thus verifying both the software model with real data and the energy performance value of Trombe walls.
The paper is so well written that a non-scientist can follow it and understand the importance of the verification process and outcomes. He concentrated on unvented walls and showed that these walls do indeed work to capture indirect heat. I told him about our wall, that it had the selective surface but it has the same problem as the Los Alamos walls in that the surface is not as well adhered as it should be. He said we could eliminate the selective surface but I told him that would mean we would have to buy double glazing. He laughed and said I might know the paper better now than he did!
But not only did he write this great paper on Trombe walls, later when he was employed by NREL, he co-wrote a handbook for Design Charrettes and what makes them successful. Since I kind of considered my design charrette a bit of a failure, this was also a very interesting paper. Also at NREL, he was the principal developer of Open Source. Released in 2008, the program integrated Energy Plus with Google’s Sketch Up to allow modeling with architectural renderings. It is the front end used now for Energy Plus modeling.
Not too shabby! He started a software company in Denver that helps people use and interpret the data from the Energy Plus software called Big Ladder Software. And because of Rocky Mountain Green 2015 I was able to meet him.