Dr. Forrest Meggers, “LowEx Buildings: How architecture can be informed by integrated low exergy systems that expand space and flexibility in design”

Building energy efficiency and building technology have often been seen by architects as nemeses to design freedom. Walls must have thick insulation and space must be allocated for ducting and piping systems, which must them be hidden. LowEx building philosophy removes these constraints. We can show how building technologies can be integrated into the structural fabric of a building while providing the heating and cooling needs with half the energy of standard systems. Energy reduction is achieved through simple thermodynamics, independent of building insulation and construction, thereby facilitating very efficient operation without massive restrictions to facade and shell design. In turn, the reduced electricity demand to operate the building systems, facilitates the generation of this demand on-site through integrated renewables. All this is achieved through low exergy systems, and a truly integrated design framework, which means not just having the civil, mechanical and architectural designers using the same BIM software, but actually inventing and creating the building concept together and simultaneously solving their design problems. Integrated design is a buzzword that could be done much more effectively if more designers were will to leave their comfort zone, and not just cross, but smash the barriers between disciplines involved in building creation. LowEx is one philosophy that does a good job of facilitating this type of action and we will demonstrate how it works and where it has been successfully implemented in the European (Switzerland/Germany) and the Tropical (Singapore/Indonesia/Malaysia) context.
Dr. Forrest Meggers is the Low Exergy Module Coordinator for the Future Cities Laboratory at the Singapore ETH Centre.

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