Transseksueel Justus Eisfeld voelde zich aanvankelijk weinig gesteund door de Universiteit van Amsterdam bij zijn strijd om een nieuwe bul. Sinds deze week is dat anders, zegt hij.

Eisfeld drukt zich diplomatiek uit - “Ik zie daar wel een ontwikkeling in.”) -  maar volgens hem heeft de Universiteit van Amsterdam aanvankelijk geen begrip getoond, toen hij zijn verzoek om een nieuwe bul indiende.

MeisjesnaamAangezien op zijn oorspronkelijke bul zijn voormalige meisjesnaam staat, wilde hij een nieuwe bul met zijn jongensnaam. Maar die weigerde de UvA te geven. De universiteit houdt het ministerie van OCW daarvoor verantwoordelijk, dat de wet te strikt zou hebben uitgelegd.

Freek de JongeBij de opening van het academische jaar aan de UvA stond Freek de Jonge op. Vlak voordat collegevoorzitter Karel van der Toorn was uitgesproken, vroeg de cabaretier of de UvA het jaar zou willen beginnen met het uitreiken van een nieuw diploma aan de transseksuele student. Daar kreeg hij van de aanwezigen een royaal applaus voor.

Verlegen“Een pleidooi om de geschiedenis te herschrijven, nee, dat is een goeie”, grapte voorzitter Van der Toorn toen, duidelijk verlegen met de situatie. Hij gaf verder geen antwoord op de vraag van De Jonge.

BlijEisfeld is ‘blij dat de UvA nu blij is met de uitspraak van de Commissie Gelijke Behandeling’. Hij snapt wel hoe het kon gebeuren dat de UvA zijn verzoek afwees. “Als mensen voor het eerst met transgenders te maken krijgen, weten ze er weinig van. Zodra ze er wat meer van begrijpen, worden ze al snel meegaander.”

‘Don’t enter, Tutankhamen’, warns a little note pasted on a thick plate that hermetically seals a box. If it weren’t for the inside, which consists of thick layers of polystyrene, the box would indeed look somewhat like a sarcophagus. “A joke by the guys who built this box”, explains Marc Ottelé (MSc). Ottelé has had this wooden box built in the basement of his faculty (Civil Engineering & Geosciences) building in order to study how panels covered with plants can influence the humidity and temperature inside and outside buildings when placed as a skin on edifices. “For esthetical reasons, facades covered with plants are becoming more and more popular”, Ottelé says. “But they also have very good insulation properties. At least, that’s what we think. This has hardly ever been investigated.”

Ottelé wants to measure the effects of these kinds of panels under laboratory conditions. He built a typical piece of Dutch wall: a cavity wall, measuring about one square meter, consisting of two brick ‘skins’ separated by a hollow space that is partially filled with insulation material. In this wall he placed a few dozen sensors that measure humidity and temperature, so as to obtain a gradient over the whole thickness of the wall and just outside the wall in the vegetation.

All Ottelé has to do now is slide this wall inside the box, put a panel with plants in front of it, and then seal it. With a blow dryer sticking inside the sarcophagus, he will mimic warm summer wind, while a few strong parabolic aluminized reflector lamps mimic radiation from the sun. A webcam inside the box will allow him to see how the plants are doing during the experiments.“I’m starting with summer conditions and then I will mimic winter”, says the researcher. There are three mechanisms by which warmth can be transported: by thermal conductivity, radiation and heat convection. Since plants do not conduct heat, Ottelé will focus on the amount of heat radiation that is absorbed by the leaves and the convection passing through the vegetation. Convection will also be reduced because of the shading caused by the leaves.

In summer, vegetation can be a blessing for the climate inside buildings, keeping houses and offices cool without need of air conditioning, but also for cities it can be advantageous. Warming of the climate is expected to hit cities hard, since people will rev up their air conditioners, thereby blowing more warm air in the city. In addition, the concrete, which most of the city is made out of, absorbs a lot of heat. Vegetation on the other hand has a cooling effect on the air because it evaporates water.

This cooling effect on the environment is also something Ottelé wants to study, first in his laboratory setup and later outside on the TU campus. He hopes he will get permission to cover part of the faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences with a skin made out of a special kind of foam with nutrients inside on which ferns can grow.

Ottelé will use the same kind of foam plates with vertically growing plants in his laboratory setup. For his experiments in the basement however he is still waiting for the right plate to arrive. A construction company he works with mistakenly sent him one with extravagant tropical plants instead of ferns. “Esthetic it is, for sure, but not such good insulation in winter”, Ottelé laughingly remarks.