CGBC Spring Lecture: Darren Robinson on “Multiscale Simulation of Buildings as Complex Sociotechnical Systems”

On Thursday, April 1, 2021, at 1:00 pm, Darren Robinson will present a lunchtime lecture via Zoom.

Please RSVP to Jeff Fitton ( to receive a Zoom invitation. This lecture is open to members of the Harvard community.

Professor Darren Robinson is Chair in Architectural and Urban Sciences at the Sheffield School of Architecture, where he is Director of Research. His personal research activities lie at the intersection between social physics (people), building physics (buildings) and urban physics (city): people • buildings • city.

Professor Robinson is particularly known for his work on the stochastic modeling of building occupants’ activities, their dependent behaviors and the impacts of these behaviors on their comfort, the integration of these models in a multi-agent stochastic simulation (MASS) platform and on urban energy microsimulation (CitySim and SUNtool). Darren has recently worked on the convergence of these interests through co-simulation (FMI) and distributed simulation (HLA) and on the upscaling of building simulation to investigate national building stock decarbonization strategies (EnHub).

He has over 100 refereed scientific publications to his credit, including the book “Computer modeling for sustainable urban design.” He is a recipient of the CIBSE Napier-Shaw Medal (2007), the FWO King Albert 1st Medal (2020), the JPBS Best Paper Prize (2010/11), the BAE Best Paper Award (2009, 2010) and the Sustainability Science Most Outstanding Article Award (2019).
In his spare time, Professor Robinson is a keen triathlete, competing at standard [Olympic], middle [half-Ironman] and long [Ironman] distances. He has recently begun training for the 2022 Marathon des Sables, a 250km foot race in the Sahara Desert.

Multiscale Simulation of Buildings as Complex Sociotechnical Systems

Over the past half a century, researchers have been working to improve the scope and rigor with which building performance is simulated. There are now highly sophisticated single-building simulators and increasingly sophisticated ecosystems of simulator that support urban-scale energy and environmental simulation. Efforts are also underway to dynamically simulate the energy performance of regional and national building stocks. But as the climate emergency becomes ever more pressing, so too does the need to include people in the loop; not just to consider their dynamic operational behaviors – how they interact with the building envelope and systems – but also, indeed much more importantly, to represent their decisions to invest in decarbonization investments. This is mission-critical if we are to develop robust policy measures to decarbonize our building stocks, which are responsible for around two-fifths of global CO2 emissions. In this talk, Professor Robinson will describe recent progress that has been made to increase the scope and scale of building energy simulation, with a particular emphasis on putting people in the loop to improve simulation rigor and support evidence-based decarbonization policy formulation.