Research Priorities

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The research priorities of the research group at the Institute of Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Building E3D at the RWTH Aachen University are related to the three interconnected topics “indoor climate and energy efficiency”, “building envelope and building technology”, as well as “modeling and simulation”.

Indoor climate and energy efficiency

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In this research area, our focus lies on people in rooms. To this end, we work on measurements and simulations of interdependencies between humans and the indoor climate, model the “human system” in detail, and engage volunteers to gain knowledge concerning temperature perception and the acceptance of indoor climate conditions. For this purpose, we seek to improve climate sensors or, depending on the application, employ simple equation-based or highly complex numerical simulation techniques – also on high performance computers. Here, it is of particular interest to develop a model of the human energy balance, using detailed thermo-physiological models.

Our interdisciplinary work also involves, for example, user behavior modeling, socio-economic aspects such as sustainable user behavior and intelligent user feedback, as well as collaborations with psychologists to assess the impact of moderate heat or cold stress on the performance of people at their (indoor) workplace.

As to that, we are also involved in research projects in the field of energy monitoring of buildings, and we put our findings to use in the scope of building automation tasks. Another field of application for the implementation of regulation strategies that are based on user feedback is to be seen in vehicle air-conditioning in the context of electric mobility.

Building envelope and building technology

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This research area focuses on interdependencies between the building envelope’s energy performance and the building technology with regard to renewable generation, storage, distribution, and transfer of heat or cold to the user. Here, we look at construction solutions that are based on new materials – based on approaches of bionics, for example – in the scope of interdisciplinary collaborations in the fields of architecture, mechanical engineering, and materials science. The aim is to employ renewable and energy-efficient systems to provide users with comfortable indoor climate conditions.

Regarding regenerative energy, we consider, for example, heat recovery from domestic waste water. To this end, we operate a testing plant – and we use simulation technology to model concepts regarding the integration in buildings with decentralized heat pump systems. We also employ methods of energy monitoring, to overlook and optimize the efficiency of building installations in operation.

Modeling and simulation

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Modeling and simulation is a key aspect to all areas of research. Our work concerns the modeling and simulation of building-specific physical processes regarding the energy-efficient and sustainable construction and operation of buildings, technical installations, and urban quarters. For this purpose, we can rely on modern IT-based methods in the areas of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). For the task of thermal and energy-specific simulations, we apply various numerical methods on different scales. Thus, we model mathematical-physical relationships using the object-oriented simulation language Modelica – or we employ detailed multi-physics simulation methods and refine them.