The global environmental and energy challenge facing current and future generations of architects and building professionals poses a number of research questions related to the relationship between the environment within and in-between buildings, and the technology to implement it. This calls for greater research engagement with the discipline of environmental design, and its integrated and effective application into architectural practice. The generative potential of environmental design and the shortfalls between predicted and actual performance of so called ‘sustainable’ buildings, as well as the socio-cultural and physical interaction between inhabitants and their built environment, are at the heart of this group’s architectural research agenda. The development and application of building integrated technologies and of integrated environmental design methodologies following an evidence based approach to the problem of energy demand reduction, as part of cross disciplinary collaborations within the Faculty and the University, is one of the group’s main research interests.
The Environmental Design sub-group of Environment and Technology has expertise in a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods ranging from environmental monitoring, post-occupancy evaluation surveys, to energy and environmental modelling and simulation of buildings’ performance.
The study of occupants’ perception of a building, as well as the post occupancy evaluation of its performance, are crucial in understanding the limitations of current practices and identifying areas for further improvements in the quest to bridging the so called building performance gap. The sub-group has specific knowledge and expertise in the topics of daylighting and passive cooling of buildings, including traditional and innovative passive evaporative cooling systems as an alternative to air-conditioning and microclimate modifiers, as well as strategies for cooling and heating energy demand reduction. The sub-group enlists cross disciplinary experts in building services and renewable technologies, contextual and cultural studies analyzing building occupants and life-style trends, and developing more realistic models of their behavior and preferences whilst observing their impact on building energy use.
Other topics of current research are the impact of urban microclimate in energy demand reduction in buildings and the integration of mitigative and adaptive climate change strategies in future policies and regulation. The sub-group has previous experience in national and EU funded research application and project management and has a conspicuous international network of research partners such as University of Athens, University of Bologna, University of Sao Paolo, Politecnico of Milan, Georgia Tech Institute and Universite’ de La Reunion. The sub-group also benefits from close association to a network of consultant and design practitioners who contribute annually to the Technical Studies lecture series.
The Environmental Design research sub-group has access to state of the art fabrication and workshop facilities including an Environmental Laboratory which includes monitoring and testing equipment for the continuous and discrete measurement of environmental and energy parameters. The sub-group has access to specialist software for advanced analysis of human comfort, climate, microclimate, and the environmental and energy modelling of the built environment (eg Dynamic thermal modelling, CFD, daylighting, etc.).