Jonathan Knowles

Jonathan Knowles is an Associate Professor of Architecture and has been teaching at RISD since 2001. He was co-project director for RISD’s Solar Decathlon Entry in 2005. Jonathan has taught at the Parsons School of Design, Cornell University and Columbia University. Jonathan is also a practicing architect and Passive House Consultant in New York City where he is a partner at Briggs Knowles Studio. The work of the firm has been published in several venues including The New York Times and Dwell magazine. He is currently overseeing the design and construction of two net-zero homes in New England.

Academic research/ areas of interest

In 2008, Jonathan initiated a pilot project with the Department of Engineering at Brown University, conducting research into new forms of thermal electric systems. The technology at the center of this project, the Stirling Engine, works purely by converting temperature differentials into mechanical energy. Employing solar energy as the heat source, the Stirling Engine has zero emissions, making it one of the most sustainable options available for the generation of electricity. When the Stirling Engine is incorporated into a Passive House—a structure with high-performance insulation, windows and an airtight building shell—the opportunity arises to create a comfortable space for human occupation that consumes no fossil fuels. The goal of the research is to demonstrate the viability of this concept.