Building Technology and Beyond

The building industry is one of the largest and most important in the world. In the United States, the construction of commercial and residential buildings constitutes one third of all investment and consumes roughly 40 percent of all energy in the U.S.

Creating high performance buildings rests on the premise that we are able to design, verify, and guarantee the type of systems that meet the highest expectations of the client. In spite of advances, many significant challenges remain. The technical performance of buildings is the result of the complex interplay of highly variable boundary conditions with the physical behavior of many components operating in multiple domains such as heat and mass transfer, fluid mechanics, light, and acoustics, all orchestrated by a control system such that the performance goals of the complete system are achieved. In particular, advanced systems for optimal control, sensing, and diagnostics require our special attention as we move towards (net) zero energy buildings. The capture of this interplay at appropriate resolution and aggregation with subsequent use in design and operational decisions is the major focus of our work. Research results generate new building performance knowledge in fields such as energy, sustainability, comfort, health, daylighting, productivity and other performance aspects.

To name just a few of the quintessential building technology challenges which PhD students explore in the high performance building concentration1:

The role of uncertainty and risk: to develop robust architectural design strategies that guarantee a required level of performance in the light of many uncontrollable uncertainties;

  • Large scale energy management: to identify optimal energy control and management strategies, especially at the interface of building and urban scale2;
  • Acausal, component-based modeling and simulation: to develop flexible next generation simulation tools that can be rapidly deployed in the simulation-driven design process; and
  • Advanced control, sensing, and fault detection: to develop efficient human centric control strategies
  • Organizational simulation
  • Performance rating systems