Recap: RETScreen workshop

Last Friday VanHout adviseurs en installateurs came by and gave us an interesting course about RETScreen. RETScreen is an energy management software system for energy efficiency, renewable energy and cogeneration project feasibility analysis as well as ongoing energy performance analysis.

Jan van Hout, the director of the company, and Sander ter Mors, a Medior engineer, took us on a journey to discover the possibilities of RETScreen. Last year they also gave a crash course where they showed us how to make PV-panels feasible on a dwelling (https://mollier.nl/recap-crash-course-retscreen-van-hout/). This year they gave a small introduction to the software. We did a workshop on how to import and analyze data from the fuel consumption of a project. We made a prediction for the ongoing fuel consumption and compared this with the actual consumption. This way we could see how an improvement in the system reduces the fuel demand.

After that we did a similar analysis of the data of a PV-panel. By analyzing the data we could see that for a while more electricity was generated then there was expected and for another period less. This was caused by roof maintenance and a lighting strike. It is important that when someone places PV-panels on their roof they also make sure that it keeps working according to expectations.

It was a really interesting course and we would like to thank Jan and Sander for coming.

Study Trip Chicago day 12 and 13

On this extended weekend, the majority of Mollier woke up in the wee hours of the almost afternoon. After a healthy breakfast (or brunch?) of bread, eggs and bacon, most of the squad enjoyed some games in the sunny weather outdoors that only left a handful un-tanned. In the true American spirit, we had pizza delivered and devoured it all at around 4pm, in preparation for an Italian dinner…. cooked by Italians!

Afternoon siestas took a toll on a big part of the group and thus, the once sporty group decimated and some other adventurers set out to find some ciggy wiggys, which they did successfully, but failed at hitchhiking back. In this pursuit, the paranoid shopkeeper flipped at Pim’s fancy filming gear (that has accompanied him everywhere on this trip). We cannot wait to see what the end result is going to be, Pim!

While most of the squad that was still awake was rather occupied with stress pong, drinking, cards against humanity, some other card games and regenwormen, all while devouring some oven fresh pizza, Martijn set out on a quest to light a ciggy wiggy, not with a lighter but some glowing embers. Let’s just say it was a good long laugh for the rest of us until he succeeded. In the meantime, the lovely Italians took up the task of cooking pasta with meatballs for Mollier and we ended up eating minced meat pasta and veggies. We’re still waiting on those meatballs, though. The study trip committee chairman gave a thank you speech as it was our last night and we had another amazing speech by Ruben. In a surprise takeover, the previous year’s committee surprised the current committee with gifts! In which the committee and the board then had to take shots of Jagermeister. Just keeping up with the traditions, no big deal.

We then enjoyed some delicious s’mores and werewolves by the campfire and some lucky guesses and unfortunate misses later, the citizens managed to win, thanks to Ola’s instincts. The early victims of the game started their own games indoors while the rest enjoyed some cozy Dutch oven conversations by the fire, until some people thought it would be fun to play another round of werewolves. Some others had some late night spooning on their minds. A second round of s’mores were roasted and in the warmth of the dying fire, the evening also came to a close with nothing but aching jaws, and teary-eyes from all the laughter we shared and all the happy memories made from all these days spent together!

Fret not, we are not done yet! The struggle of packing the next morning was real. The little explosions of luggage around the rooms were gathered and packed more or less efficiently by everyone; squeezing in all the souvenirs, Cubs fan merchandise and glassware safely (the safety aspect is still questionable). We still had plenty of food left in the fridge, so breakfast was bigger than usual. With a quick clean-up session, most of the bunkhouse was returned back to its original state. Except for the can recycling bag. That bag has endured some trauma and will never look the same again. Luggage was then loaded into the bus to make the hour long drive to the airport a lot easier than hopping around with the public transport for 3 hours. Thankfully, we did not have to endure the noisy CTA trains anymore! Arriving much earlier than planned at the state-of-the-art airport with no wi-fi, we were all checked-in, scanned and ready for departure! While some of us set out to spend our last few dollars on souvenirs and gifts, some others ate and rested. In due time, as we boarded our flight all set for departure, the city cried heavy tears of sorrow, sad to see us go. This delayed our take off by an hour but then finally, we were on our way! Netherlands, here we come!

– Written by Meghana & Daria –

Study Trip Chicago day 10 and 11

Some of us started the day off right with some healthy and relaxing yoga in the nature around us on Camp Sullivan. Today was a free day so everyone was free to do whatever they wanted to do. One of the two groups went back to downtown Chicago to do some last-minute shopping, meeting with friends or find some souvenirs.

The other group went to a shopping mall not too far from the campsite. After taking the bus to the Chicago ridge mall we spent the day buying food, shoes and clothes.
After a while the group was done shopping and went back to the camp using Uber. At dinnertime there was quite some difference amongst us. Since there was a free day everyone had to arrange their own food. Some were eating pizza while some where eating bread and cheese. After dinner we had some quality time with each other playing card games before going to sleep.

Next day we started off the day even better with bacon and eggs during breakfast. Everyone was still a bit dull from the night before and had some time to relax since there wasn’t a busy schedule today. Some were playing Swedish puzzles, others went outside to throw some rugby balls and playing soccer.

There was an (optional) hike on the agenda so we gathered everyone that wanted to join, got some beverages and left the campsite. After one hour of walking heavy heavy rainfall started. Of course, it happened right at the turnaround point of the hike, so we were as far away as possible from the campsite. The walk back was close to an hour and it didn’t stop raining at all. Everyone was soaked when we got back.

In the evening the pajama party was planned. The cabin was reorganized, balloons were blown and the fun began. During the party we held a costume related contest. The winners were:

Best socks – Arjan
Most clumsy – Pim and Daria tie
Best shorts – Martijn
Best pantoffles – Marjolijn
Most late arrivals in general – Meghana
Best onesie – Wesley
Clumsy story – Martijn setting trash can on fire with cigarette in the shopping mall.
Best matching outfit – Arjan due to the SpongeBob shirt and socks
Oldest pajamas – Pim 12+ years

After the nominations, some drinking games were played such as beer pong and stress pong. In between the games Gert-Jan asked for everybody’s attention multiple times because he wants to fart in a lighter. So, with some dancing, talking and gaming it was a very fun night.

– Written by Wesley and Youri –

Study Trip Chicago day 9

The day started with our last breakfast at the hostel, so we could finally say goodbye to the bagels with peanut butter that we had to eat all week. We were picked up at the hostel by a luxurious bus with blue lights and a wooden floor, that was arranged by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This is a huge facility that creates building standards, tests products and certifies them.

After the trip to UL, which was very silent, because most Mollier members were watching the inside of their eyelids, we were welcomed by Sean DeCrane and Theresa Nemeth. They gave us a short introduction to UL and what the program of the day was going to be. After putting on some nice blue helmets and a pair of goggles, we left to the fire safety facilities of UL. Here we saw the new smoke alarm lab that opened this year, where they test smoke detectors and alarms for residential and commercial purposes. At the moment they are conducting false alarm tests, because a lot of people turn the alarm off because of this. After that we went to another lab, where UL does commodity testing. They have a huge testing facility (100x100ft) with a moveable ceiling to test whether sprinkler systems work according to the design. We also saw their steiner tunnel, which they use to perform surface burn tests to assess how far the flames go over a surface. Youri had a very interesting question about the smell of the room, which Shaun explained was his body odor.

After the tour through the fire safety labs, we went back to the conference room we started in, for a Q&A session with Dwain Sloan. He told us about the challenges of UL for the next years; technology is outrunning the ability to make codes. Some examples are guaranteeing the fire safety of wooden high-rise structures, cannabis production and autonomous vehicles.

We then took the bus to another building at the UL campus, were they conduct fenestration tests. Before the tour, UL arranged a wide variety of different lunch boxes for us, which resulted in people almost fighting for their favorite choice. After the lunch (with delicious, America-sized cookies) Wayne Breighner started the tour with showing his office. After opening one of his closets, it turned out this led to a secret bathroom with shower. We then continued to the actual labs of UL Fenestration Services. Wayne first showed us how they test the failure of doors, which is done by simply opening and closing it 20,000 times. Luckily, he doesn’t have to do it manually. We then entered the thermal chamber that is used to determine the U-values of constructions. However, we had to evacuate the chamber after a gas leakage of one of our members. We moved on to some door safety tests, were UL tests how easily a door can be kicked in. We even got to take part in a heavy rainstorm simulation. UL did this by blowing a lot of water on a façade construction that we were standing behind. Luckily nobody got wet feet. At last, we even got to see a spectacular test of tornado resisting glass that was conducted by shooting a wooden beam onto the glass with a big cannon. The glazing however did not withstand the force of the wooden beam, which turned the test into some nice video material.

After the tour, we wanted to make a group picture at UL. However, Martijn and Ola were having a private moment in the secret bathroom of Wayne (of course not at the same time). Shaun of UL managed to make all Mollier members euphoric by telling that the party bus (or for some members sleeping bus) was able to bring us to Camp Sullivan, which meant we didn’t have to take lots of busses and trains to get there.

The trip to Camp Sullivan took us through the not so hilly countryside of Cook County. When we arrived, we were handed the key to a large cabin, which we immediately decorated by hanging the Mollier banner on the wall. Jantje, one of the Marcs and Remco went to Walmart to buy groceries, as we didn’t have any food or drinks yet. The rest went searching for wood to make a campfire and use our newly learned fire safety skills. The Walmart turned out to be enormous, so Jantje, Marc and Remco were lost several times and it took them quite some hours to find everything. Meanwhile at Camp Sullivan, all remaining Mollier members were starving and dehydrated. When the Uber car with all the groceries (and Jantje, Marc and Remco, but nobody seemed to care about that) arrived at the campsite, everybody stormed towards the car, screaming and cheering along the way.

The ladies and our Italian stallion Marcello took it upon themselves to prepare our dinner, which existed of some hotdogs and baked potatoes from the campfire. After dinner, the group seated themselves around the campfire to start a game of Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow. Just like at UL, we had another delay. This time due to Jantje and Gert-Jan, who were ‘doing the dishes’. It was a very intense game that led to a lot of frustrations, so afterwards we needed some relaxation time with refreshing drinks and a huge bucket of cheesy puffs. The next day was the first day that we could finally sleep in, so a small group saw this as an opportunity to remain seated around the campfire until 4 o’clock in the night.

– Written by Remco and Ruben –

Study Trip Chicago day 8

Today we woke up with stormy weather, but luckily the sky cleared when we headed out to the metro station to go visit the Lightfair. First, we needed to recharge our public transport carts since our week passes expired. Our first experience with obtaining these Ventra cards didn’t turn out great at the airport, hence the early start of the day. After a short metro trip we arrived at McCormick place where the Lightfair is held. The Lightfair is the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial trade show and conference. This 5-day event started at Sunday with the pre-conference and will last until Thursday. Being fairly early at the Lightfair all gave us plenty of time to explore the fair before each group attended their scheduled speaker session of a topic of interest. Some subjects of the visited seminars are: Lighting metrics for well-being, spectral design of healthcare environments and Lighting the way to Net Zero Buildings. Most of the seminars were found very interesting, others a little less.
Lots of companies, ranging from American to Asian were showing state of the art lightning technologies implemented in new LED fixtures or smart building applications. Although a lot of products were found to be quite familiar with existing applications, a range of new products have been showed that opened up very interesting conversations. Later in the afternoon about half of the group joined in a student and emerging professional networking event. Here we have gotten the chance to talk to some of the professionals in the lighting industry. 5 professionals rotated between the different table setups in which different topics were discussed.
At the end of the day we all went home with a goodie bag and the free drinks offered at some of the stands have been much appreciated after quite the intense day program. Heading back to the hostel during rush-hour has been quite the challenge since not everyone fitted in the already crowed metro wagons. The majority of the group didn’t notice the incredible heavy rainfall while being underground. Others where not so lucky and get soaked while heading to the hostel by foot. Returned at the hostel, some of the group members ate the leftovers of the deep-dish pizzas whereas the others went to have dinner in a nearby restaurant.
– Written by Pim and Nick –

Study Trip Chicago day 7

Keeping up with the practice of getting a ‘good night’s sleep’, Mollier was up and running at 8 am after a quick breakfast to head to Arcadis downtown.

While stuffing our faceswith some amazing and fresh baked muffins, we were introduced to Arcadis’ company organization, the various disciplines and their future plans by Paul Darby, the associate VP and an avid water skiing enthusiast. He then guided us on a walking tour of their projects and sites- first through an art museum designed by Renzo Piano, to the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab and then to the Gems World Academy, one of Chicago’s premier schools (which will leave you $40,000 poorer every year). Here we also passed by the city’s next tallest building, a wavy beast which most of us thought was a construction error.

If no one has already mentioned, Chicago’s trains are hideously loud. These living acoustic and vibration nightmares are being renovated by the amazing George, who is also from Arcadis. He also explained a lot about how the project was being undertaken while the transit lines were active. Every seven minutes, the work was stopped to allow the trains to pass. Most of the work happened on the weekends, with only a few irate passengers inconvenienced by the stoppage. All in all, it was a marvel of a project with very challenging constraints that were meticulously negotiated and executed by their team. On the same CTA line are four other stations slated for renovation, with a total cost of around 2 billion dollars expected to take 7 long years. The city does plan to replace all the noisy-ness soon. It might take long, but they will get there soon. Or so they say.

After looking at some intimidating construction drawings, we had worked up an appetite to devour a barbarically large American pizza which was almost a meter across. No lies. Not one. Three. We Mollier pigs finished it all. Even the salad and soda were not spared. Some people got to peep into the vault of the bank that was in the same building. Only looking and no touching.

After being highly recommended by multiple Chicagoans, we took a(n extremely cheap) ride on the water taxi through downtown and some beers were involved*. While most of the group decided to freeload back downtown, some of us set out on an adventure to explore china(town) and were thoroughly disappointed by the lack of dragons.

In the free time, a couple of beers were emptied*. The hot temperatures of the city drove Mollier to the beach and a swim in the freezing cold water, which, at the moment, seemed like a really good idea. Some more beers were gedronken*, songs sung and grocery-store-celebrity-run-in anecdotes from Marc were exchanged.

When we finally came home, we finished some more beers for a change, while some other people snored away to glory.

*We do not have an alcohol problem, we promise.

– Written by Meghana, moral support and supervision by Martijn –

Study Trip Chicago day 6

The day started with quite a long travel (and with some hangovers) to Writers Theatre. The trip went a lot smoother than planned, so we arrived an hour early. This gave us the opportunity to have a coffee break (which some people really needed to wake up…). After our coffee break we met with Jon Farris, the managing director, atthe Theatre. Regina, a friend of Marjolijn, helped us arrange the tour because she works at the theatre and decided to join us for the tour as well. Jon explained all about the structure, building physics and architecture behind their building. The theatre started in an old library not too far from where the theatre is now, but after outgrowing their previous buildings two times, they decided to have a fundraising and built the building we visited today. The theatre looks very modern and has two theatre halls. The construction of the theatre consists of wood, precast concrete. The sidewalk around the auditorium has a very interesting wooden structure made out of small beams to hold it up.  We visited the big theatre hall with 250 seats. It has an interesting panel system installed on the ceiling to make sure the sound on stage will always reach your ears. During construction of the theatre they used almost 80% of the materials of the old building. This was clearly visible in this theatre hall as well in the surrounding stone walls. The small theatre hall could entertain 100 people. Here they used two types of panels on opposites sides in the walls (a reflective and absorbing panel) to get good acoustics. After looking at the installations and the backstage area we ended the tour in the rehearsal room. The same panels were used as in the small theatre hall but alternately. The visit was very interesting and we enjoyed it very much.

After some free time where people went to the Target store or relaxed at a bar, we had a nice group dinner and went to a Baseball game of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. We watched the game with 37.333 local people, almost all dressed in the blue Cubs clothes so we were a bit underdressed (except for Ola). We participated in the dances, yells and even the wave, almost as enthusiastic as the American crowd around us. After 2 hours and 48 minutes and 3 homeruns, the Cubs won (2-14)!

After the game it was time to get back to the hostel. Of course, the train was pretty busy directly after the game, but when we finally got back to the hostel we enjoyed a quiet night.

– Written by Marjolijn en Margo –

Study Trip Chicago day 5

Another beautiful day started in Chicago for the study trip of Mollier. The sun shined high in the sky and the day started a bit late today due to some going-outness. No company or university visit today, because it’s a Sunday.

We left for the Museum of Science and Industry at 10:15. After a metro and bus ride of about an hour, we arrived there and got going in smaller groups. The most surprise thing for all the group was a 20m high tornado you could interfere with. This was not the only unexpectedly exciting there: a Tesla coil, real-size planes, a submarine, a crazy mirror maze and more were there. The museum closed at 16:00, a little earlier than expected for some of the groups, so each of them planned different thing to do.

The day continues with a free evening for each group. Some went to do some shopping, others continued to visit the city and enjoy the sun and other reached the Buckingham Fountain and enjoyed the landscape.

Suddenly, the evening arrived, that means times for dinner. Some went to Vapiano and enjoyed some plates of pasta and pizza, while others continued going around the city and have no dinner at all due to a late big lunch.

Everybody met in the common room of the hostel and enjoyed the good company. Nobody went out due to the tiredness.

– Written by Marcello and Marc –

Study Trip Chicago day 4

Today the group started the day off with some nice cereal and bagels, much like every other day.. After the breakfast, we all headed downtown towards Millenial Park to admire Cloud Gate for the first time. Cloud gate is a sculpture of 10 by 20 by 13 m with an exterior of polished stainless steel.

After some delay due to Gert-Jan forgetting his transportation card, we made it there. After walking around in the park for a little while, the group split up. Some people went along the shoreline and headed to Navy Pier, whilst some went into the city centre to shop for a couple of hours.

At 15.00 we all met at the Cloud Gate again to head towards a surprise activity! When the metro stopped at a stop on Goose Island, most people had an idea of what activity it was.. The surprise was a tour and tasting in the Goose Island brewhouse! The group was split into two, one was at 16.00 and one was at 17.00. From the exiting first group, it appeared that the samplers were very generous, especially the girls were having a bit too much fun. When Youri asked: “can we take off our bril?” it was clear that we all had enough to drink.

After the tour, we hung out at the brewhouse a little longer to taste just a couple more beers, after which we headed towards Lou Manati’s for some deep dish pizza. Unfortunately, when we arrived it appeared our reservation was forgotten and we had to opt for take-away. The idea of eating our pizza at the beach with a view of fireworks at the pier sounded very good. But we soon found out why Chicago is also known as the windy city. It felt as if the temperature dropped with about 20 degrees and we all sat next to each other to keep warm. Also, the firework show was at 22.30 instead of 21.00. We headed back to the hostel before the show, since we were all freezing. Most of the group went out in the neighbourhood around the hostel and some people chose to head to bed early.

Xoxo Jantje and Marc

Study Trip Chicago day 3

After another night of jetleg where almost everyone woke up quite early once more, at 8:30 we set out for Baumann Consulting. On the way there, Ola harassed some random dude by splashing water on him for no reason. At arrival at the Clark/Lake stop we went to the Baumann Office at the 16th floor, the Vertigo Elevators could learn something about efficiency and speed from those elevators.

Kelly Adighije from Baumann welcomed and offered us our 2nd breakfast, which we ate out of politeness. Afterwards the president of the company Oliver Baumann gave an introduction about the company and the history of how a German engineer ended up in Chicago. Then, the webinar started, where Arjan and Rambo presented their master projects. In total, about 100 people tuned in for this.

After the questions rounds following these presentations, the interview about WELLS certificates was done, which they allready prepared very “WELL”.

Following some small talk (where they mentioned that it is also possible for us to do an internship there) the contacts were presented with a Dutch present as a thanks for their time and help.

At around 12 ‘o clock we bid our farewells. We would like to thank Baumann Consultants for their hospitality. Afterwards we headed to spend some free time.

During the free time the group divided themselves. One group went to the Google Office, another had an interview at Threshold Acoustics for their article and the rest headed to the Pier.

At 4 ‘o clock the group gathered at the John Hancock tower and headed to the 360° Observation deck, which was a $17 elevator ride to the 95th floor. For an additional $8 you could make use of the TILT attraction. In sum, a $25 view of the city.

Marjolijn stayed at the ground floor to make sure the building didn’t tip over. After some leisure time at the deck we headed out to get some dinner.

In the evening, we went to the AMC Theatres to check out the latest Avengers movie, which was mindblowingly awesome. The good guys were fighting the bad guys, the Mollier members were fighting sleepiness. You know, the usual.

The train trip back to the hostel afterwards was filled with delays and weird folk. Also here a lot of people were checking the inside of their eyes. With this the 3rd day ended at 1:30 am.

– Written by Don and Gert-Jan –