Ali Malkawi honored at World Science Forum 2017 for contributions to architecture

On Tuesday November 7, 2017, CGBC Founding Director Ali Malkawi was honored by King Abdullah II of Jordan with the Jordanian Star of Science Medal at the World Science Forum (WSF) 2017. King Abdullah honored a number of prominent Jordanian scientists who have excelled in various fields of science, research, medicine, engineering, physics and technology and who work as deans of faculties and directors of scientific departments in the world’s most renowned universities and institutes. Professor Malkawi was recognized for his contributions to the design and development of environmental solutions for buildings.

Attended by more than 3,000 scientific leaders from more than 120 countries, the World Science Forum 2017 aimed to engage the world of science and redefine the global potential of scientific communities and policymakers to bring real change to our interlinked societies. Read more about the award here. Read more about the forum here.

First two CGBC-sponsored DDes Fellows defend dissertations

We are very excited to announce that the first two DDes Fellows sponsored by the Center for Green Buildings and Cities and advised by Professor Malkawi will defend their dissertations this week. This marks the culmination of very hard work and extensive study, and we are very proud to have supported their journey.


Decision-Making Support in Early Design Stage for High Performance Naturally Ventilated Buildings

Bing Wang

As a response of both rapid growing interest in high performance naturally ventilated buildings and lack of such design decision-making support in early design stage, the target of this dissertation was developing a system that could help designers make smarter design decisions in early design stage by taking natural ventilation into account. To achieve the goal, the objective of this research was defined first, by questioning on the index to be used to evaluate natural ventilation in early design stage. A design based natural ventilation potential was proposed as the evaluation index of natural ventilation. After that, a workflow of calculating the design based natural ventilation evaluation index was developed. The workflow study consisted of two main parts, outdoor wind environment simulation and indoor natural ventilation calculation. IA practical workflow of evaluating the design based natural ventilation potential was developed in the end, with the automatic outdoor wind environment simulation and simplified indoor natural ventilation calculation.Last but not least, the design decision-making support system was embedded in architectural modeling environment to provide quick feedback on design. A building form optimization study was conducted based on the natural ventilation potential evaluation in early design stage, illustrating the potential of this design decision-making support system to help designers for smarter design in early stage for natural ventilation.In conclusion, a comprehensive and practical design decision-making support system for natural ventilation evaluation in early design stage was developed in this research, which was a great innovation for building performance informed design in early design stage.


Designing green walls: An early-design tool to estimate the cooling impact of indirect green walls on buildings in six different climates

Arta Yazdanseta

The Shijiazhuang Forest City; the 2015 Milan Expo; Paris Smart City 2050; and the NYC Million Trees Initiative – these are just a few examples that highlight the importance of Green Urban Infrastructure (GUI) to the future of our cities. Green walls are one component of GUI. Currently, the main obstacle preventing practitioners from considering green walls as a passive design strategy is the lack of a simple and fast method for evaluating a green wall’s performance at the outset of a project. This investigation aims to reduce the gap between academic research and practice. The objective of this dissertation is to develop an early design phase decision-making tool for evaluating the cooling effects of indirect vining green walls while accounting To that end, the total cooling effect of indirect vining green walls is estimated from the sum of the cooling effects of solar radiation reduction and transpiration. Using standardized methods from the fields of agronomy and plant biophysics, each variable impacting canopy cooling performance is been identified and evaluated. Finally, three sets of simple-to-use matrices are introduced to evaluate the cooling performance of various green wall designs in six climatic scenarios.

Architect Magazine: Education and the Performance Imperative

In a recent interview with Architect Magazine, CGBC’s Ali Malkawi and Gordon Gill, founding partner at Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, discussed their CGBC-supported studio entitled “Zero Energy Residential High-Rise.” Taught in Spring 2017 at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the course’s integrated approach to design and data blended the expertise of Malkawi and Gill. The two spoke about the need for heightened climate awareness in architecture schools, and about how to prepare the next generation of practitioners to design for climate change. “This is a very critical moment,” says Malkawi, “where environmental considerations are becoming highlighted now more than ever. We have the capacity to [teach] this in a way that would allow a new generation to take those issues very seriously.” Read the entire interview here.


ArchitectureBoston: HouseZero

Carl Solander published a review of HouseZero in the Fall 2017 edition of Architecture Boston, a quarterly publication of the Boston Society of Architects. After touring the constructions site with CGBC Founding Director Ali Malkawi, he notes that he was “struck by the incongruence between the project’s lofty goals and the entirely ordinary appearance of the building during demolition.” He goes on to describe the project’s “laudable” performance goals and use of computational intelligence to intensify the impact of known heating and cooling strategies. “If successful,” he writes, “our understanding of the capacity of passive may well be transformed by this modestly scaled building and its active components. This is not a superinsulated sealed box, but a building that breathes with yogic discipline.” Read the entire piece online here.

GSD Students and Alumni Win International Building Simulation Competitions

The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC) had a strong presence at the Building Simulation 2017 conference in San Francisco, California, August 7-9 2017. At least 26 Harvard affiliates, including faculty, researchers, and past and present students, participated (several pictured below).

The conference acts as the biennial meeting of the International Building Performance Simulation Association and it’s the premier opportunity for researchers, simulation practitioners, and building industry professionals from around the world to meet and share information about exciting developments in the field of building performance simulation and advanced building systems. The event included a program of peer-reviewed presentations and papers, and sessions covered both research and advanced practice in the areas of energy simulation, airflow and natural ventilation, thermal comfort, lighting and daylighting, acoustics, and more.

Front Row (left to right)
:  Esteban Estrella Guill
én, Ching Che Huang, Liuwei Zhao, Rufei Wang, Alejandra Menchaca
Middle Row (left to right): Arta Yazdanseta, Tai-Hsin Hsu, Jung Min (Ellie) Han, Christine Vöhringer, Holly Samuelson, Carlos Cerezo, Kanika Arora, Nari Yoon, Aman Singhvi, Nada Tarkhan, Tarek Rakha, Elliot Glassman, Jianxiang Huang
Back Row: Timur Dogan
Missing from photo:  Christine Tiffin, Alstan Jakubiec, Bin Yan, Jon Sargent, Yujiao Chen, Zheming Tong, Huishan He

Harvard GSD students and alumni were victorious in both the student and practitioner design competitions. Students from the GSD’s Master of Design in Energy and Environments program won first place in the student design competition which challenged student teams to redesign a mixed-use laboratory building using building performance simulation to help improve its environmental performance and overall design. The GSD team’s design focused mainly on passive, architectural solutions. Members 
included Esteban Estrella Guillén, Jung Min (Ellie) Han, Tai-Hsin Hsu, Ching Che Huan, and Christine Vöhringer. Holly Samuelson, a CGBC affiliate faculty member, acted as Faculty Adviser. For the first time, this year’s conference also included a practitioner competition, a modified version of the student competition, which drew interest from over 40 professional firms.  The winning entry, from team AECOM, was presented by team member Aman Singhvi, a 2016 graduate of the GSD Master of Design in Energy and Environments program.

Shown in photo (left to right): Jung Min (Ellie) Han, Christine Vöhringer, Holly Samuelson (Faculty Adviser), Esteban Estrella Guillén, Ching Che Huang, and Tai-Hsin Hsu.



Harvard Magazine: Harvard “HouseZero”

Harvard Magazine published a piece featuring the CGBC’s HouseZero project, a retrofitted building that aims to produce more energy than it consumes. As noted by the article, the project hopes to achieve multiple sustainability goals—including entirely natural lighting, ventilation, and zero emissions—and could provide a repeatable checklist for similar retrofits of small-scale, residential buildings throughout the United States. Professor Malkawi explains that the project aims to break new ground in sustainable construction: “people have done a building that is 100 percent [naturally] ventilated, or a building that is 100 percent naturally lit, or close to zero [energy consumption], or zero carbon,” he says. “To our knowledge, no one has reached all these goals at once in a retrofit.”  Read the article here.

NEREJ: Retrofitting existing buildings is new frontier of energy efficiency

The New England Real Estate Journal has published a new column by CGBC Director Ali Malkawi about the importance of energy efficiency in buildings and the Center’s HouseZero retrofit project. Recognizing building energy consumption as a major contributor to climate change, Malkawi intends for HouseZero to “demonstrate how to transform one of the most challenging building types – an existing home – into a prototype that will model ultra-efficiency for other property owners.” The project will change “the paradigm for ultra-efficiency from one focused on energy production to curbing energy demand,” and will offer data and insight into improving energy efficiency for existing building stock.

Read the column here.

Harvard Gazette Q&A: A house that produces energy

The Harvard Gazette has published a new interview with Founding Director Ali Malkawi about CGBC’s retrofit of HouseZero, which strives “to produce more energy than it consumes — with zero carbon emissions and using daylighting and natural ventilation instead of an HVAC system — while serving as a learning center for students and a testing ground for emerging technologies.” In this wide-ranging interview, Professor Malkawi discusses the project in detail, highlighting the role he hopes it will play in moving building design toward ultra-efficiency. Malkawi explains that the Center “wanted to push a standard that doesn’t exist that will push efficiency to its limit[,] we wanted to identify that standard, and show that it’s possible and performance-driven.”

Read the article here. GSD coverage here.

CGBC team publishes on design of porous materials for heat exchange, decentralized ventilation

CGBC researchers’ new article entitled “Breathing walls: The design of porous materials for heat exchange and decentralized ventilation” was accepted and will be published in a forthcoming issue of Energy and Buildings, an international academic journal that publishes articles about “explicit links to energy use in buildings” to “present new research results, and new proven practice aimed at reducing the energy needs of a building and improving indoor environment quality.” Authors Salmaan Craig and Jonathan Grinham demonstrate how to design pores in building materials so that incoming fresh air can be efficiently tempered with low-grade heat while conduction losses are kept to a minimum.

CGBC’s Materials Dimension continues to advance research that aims to make natural ventilation feasible for a wider range of building types and a wider range of building climates. The team works to achieve this by developing innovative designs for building envelopes using standard materials based on principles of heat exchanger design. This work hopes to inspire an open-source ‘commons’ of innovative heat-exchange designs for breathing buildings, which can be made from standard materials and adapted to local circumstances, including in-lab and in-situ performance data.

Read the article here.

Architizer: Converting a Building Into an Energy-Efficient Predictive Piece of Architecture

Architizer profiles CGBC’s project “to convert its headquarters, a 1924 stick-built house in Cambridge, into HouseZero, a sustainable system that is expected to set a precedent for the future of green reconstruction around the world.” Professor Malkawi, founding director of the CGBC, explains that his goal is to “show how this can be replicated almost anywhere” to enhance existing building stock. The article discusses the building’s future ability, once fully retrofitted, to predict and adapt to changing weather patterns and generate new levels of proficiency using a combination of advanced sustainable technologies.

Read the article here.