The Nahs of the Naniken of Nett
I had read of this particular nahs before I had a chance to see it. In the article I was warned that, due to the importance of the Naniken of Nett, permission to visit the building might not be granted and photography was out of the question. After further research I visited the Naniken and asked his permission to study, photograph and take some readings regarding the human comfort experience of the nahs. He was very pleasant and helpful and agreed to my requests. The only concern he voiced was that the building was in disrepair and he wondered if I might be able to come back in a month or so after the planned work was completed. However, once I had explained that this was not an option – that I would be off-island in a few weeks – he invited me to visit at my convenience.

Although I was not completely prepared to do a thorough observation, I did spend some time looking around trying to get a feeling for the building. It was noon on a sunny day and the direct sun, with a breeze of 3 to 4 knots, was uncomfortable. I wore socks, shorts and a tee shirt: a Clo factor of about .41, and my activity level was low. The area surrounding the nahs was green grass without shade from surrounding trees. Inside the nahs it was quite comfortable. The airflow was only slightly obstructed by the half-open woven wall panels. My comfort level in the nahs was much greater compared to being in an air-conditioned office. The space was very pleasant. My first visit lasted for about 60 minutes.

There was another nahs close by that had had its thatched roof replaced with galvanized steel corrugated roofing.

One of the subjects I wanted to compare, both qualitatively and quantitatively, was the human comfort level of these different buildings regarding the roofing materials. With help from a book that I had brought from the US, Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings, by John Reynolds, I gathered up the components of an operative temperature thermometer. I assembled a cooking thermometer and a black painted copper water closet float. The parts were held together through the use of masking tape. I completed this thermometer just as a week of storms hit Pohnpei. After almost two weeks of waiting for hot sunny weather, I had to settle for a day with partially cloudy skies.

I made my return visit to the nahs of the Naniken of Nett at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The skies were predominantly sunny, with clouds occasionally casting shadows on the buildings. The breeze was below 5 knots, or 2.23 meters per second (miles per hour x .447 = meters per second). It was uncomfortable in direct sun; in the shade of the clouds it was comfortable. This time I had my camera and operative temperature thermometer. My first point of measurement was in the Naniken’s nahs. I allowed 15 minutes for the thermometer to stabilize and read it at 85 degrees Fahrenheit. As before, I found the interior of the nahs to be very comfortable. It was pointed out that the weathered roof might not be cooling the interior as well as it would have if it were new.

The next reading I took was in a similar building with different roofing. Where the Naniken’s nahs roof was thatched, the roof of the second nahs was of corrugated steel. There was a distinct difference in the human comfort level in this second building. It was not a pleasant space to be in. Again I set the thermometer and allowed 15 minutes to pass before taking the reading. The thermometer stabilized this time at 92 degrees Fahrenheit, a seven degree difference from the thatched roof nahs.

I took one more reading, even though this final one was a bit more obscure. I placed the thermometer in direct sunlight on the grassy area outside the nahs. Within 15 minutes the temperature rose to 123 degrees and it looked as if it might still climb higher. Cloud cover limited my making further extended time observations.