Environmental Technologies in Buildings

This course examines the fundamental scientific principles underlying the thermal, luminous and acoustic behavior of buildings and introduces students to a range of technologies for creating comfortable indoor environments.The course begins with an overview of building occupants\’ comfort requirements with regards to their thermal, visual, and acoustic environment followed by a discussion of the physical phenomena of heat flow, light and sound propagation. We will then explore how buildings can act as mediators between prevailing climatic boundary conditions and occupant comfort requirements using rules-of-thumb, spreadsheet methods, and computer simulations. Students will need to develop an understanding of the underlying assumptions and limitations of these different design methods.The concepts learned will then be used to test how key design variables and material properties can impact heating, cooling and lighting loads. Performance characteristics of conventional building elements (walls, windows, HVAC systems) as well as emerging technologies such as solar thermal collectors, photovoltaics, natural ventilation, switchable glazings, and lighting controls will be discussed. Students will evaluate the financial and energy-related pros and cons of these technologies within the context of their specific course projects. The goal is to develop holistic designs in which different technologies are meaningfully integrated.The course format will be a mixture of lectures, in-class exercises, and student presentations. Working in groups of four, students will develop an environmental design concept for a project of their choice, ideally an ongoing or former design studio. The two main course deliverables will be an oral presentation and a report both describing an environmental design strategy for the course project. A series of assignments will help students to absorb the topics covered in class.