CGBC Lecture Series

Past Lectures, Spring 2023:

February 28, 2023 at noon ET | Cambridge, MA

Petros Koumoutsakos on “Natural and Artificial Optimization”

Petros Koumoutsakos

Petros Koumoutsakos is Herbert S. Winokur, Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Area Chair for Applied Mathematics at Harvard’s  John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). He studied Naval Architecture (Diploma-NTU of Athens, M.Eng.-U. of Michigan), Aeronautics and Applied Mathematics (PhD-Caltech) and has served as the Chair of Computational Science at ETH Zurich (1997-2020). Petros is elected Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Physical Society (APS), the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). He is recipient of the Advanced Investigator Award by the European Research Council and the ACM Gordon Bell prize in Supercomputing. He is elected International Member to the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE). His research interests are on the fundamentals and applications of computing and artificial intelligence to understand, predict and optimize fluid flows in engineering, nanotechnology, and medicine.

On Natural and Artificial Optimization

For centuries engineers have taken inspiration from nature for design and problem solving. Today’s computing capabilities present the possibility to approach design optimization not from the perspective of imitating existing natural forms, but from the perspective of deploying effective algorithms inspired by natural processes. Petros discussed the development and fusion of learning and evolution algorithms for applications ranging from micro-fluidics to aerodynamics.


Past Lectures, Fall 2022:

November 10, 2022 at noon ET | Cambridge, MA

Elena Present on “Residential Energy Consumption and NREL Resources”

Elaina Present, NREL

Elaina is a researcher in in the Residential Buildings Research Group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO. She conducts building stock energy modeling, data analysis, and emissions analysis in pursuit of better understanding current household energy consumption patterns, how they may change in the future, and their relationship with the evolving electric grid. She was the data acquisition lead for the “End-use load profiles for the U.S. building stock” project and is a contributor to the ResStock tool.

Prior to joining NREL in 2019, Elaina was part of the Center for the Built Environment at UC Berkeley. She previously conducted technical analyses for the federal appliance standards program. She holds degrees in mechanical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, and architecture.

Residential Energy Consumption and NREL Resources

Buildings are responsible for the majority of electricity consumption in the U.S. and are a substantial contributor to carbon emissions. Understanding how buildings use energy and how that may change in the future is important for utilities, governments, and other stakeholders. This talk will discuss energy consumption in residential buildings, NREL’s residential building stock energy modeling tool, ResStock, and the public datasets available from ResStock.

Holly Samuelson, DDes, LEED and the Center for Green Buildings and Cities are pleased to host the online lecture, “Residential Energy Consumption and NREL Resources.”


Past Lectures, Spring 2022:

April 28, 2022 at noon ET | Cambridge, MA

Hanif Kara on “Sustainable Practice Concerns”

Hanif Kara

Professor Hanif Kara is a practicing Structural Engineer and Professor in the Practice of Architectural Technology at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard. He is recognized for linking design, research, education and practice. He co-tutored a Diploma Unit at the Architecture Association, London from 2000 to 2004 and was a Visiting Professor of Architectural Technology at KTH Stockholm from 2007 to 2012.

As Design Director and co-founder of AKT II (est. 1996), his particular ‘design-led’ approach and interest in innovative form, pushing material uses, sustainable construction and complex analysis methods have allowed him to work on numerous pioneering projects at the forefront of many challenges facing the built environment.

The practice has won over 350 design awards including the RIBA Stirling Award for the Peckham Library, London in 2000, for the Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge in 2012, and for the Bloomberg European HQ, London in 2018 as well as the RIBA Lubetkin Prize for the UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo in 2010. The practice also was awarded by Building Magazine as ‘Engineering Consultant of the Year 2019’.

For more information about Hanif Kara, please click here to visit the GSD website.

Sustainable Practice Concerns

The talk will share firsthand experience in the field from the position of design engineering. A handful of projects will illustrate experiences as we transition toward zero carbon. We will raise the role “Design Research” plays in practice: challenges and some successes.


Past Lectures, Spring & Fall 2021:

Khee Poh Lam on “A ‘Well & Green’ Approach to A Sustainable and Resilient Educational Campus”

December 2, 2021 at 10:00 am ET | Zoom

Provost’s Chair Professor of Architecture and Building
Dean, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore
Professor Emeritus, Carnegie Mellon University

Professor Lam is the Provost’s Chair Professor of Architecture and Building. He is also the Dean for the School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore and a Professor Emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University. Professor Lam is an architect, educator and researcher who specializes in computational design support systems for total building performance analysis and building diagnostics. He has completed many major funded research projects in Singapore and the USA, and his findings are widely published. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of Building Simulation: An International Journal (Springer and Tsinghua University Press), and Buildings (MDPI AG, Switzerland). He is a member of the Singapore Future Economy Council Urban Systems Cluster Sub Committee. He is also a Director of the Centre for Liveable Cities Ltd., Singapore, and currently serves as a Management Board member of the Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies at NUS. Lam is also an Advisory Board member of Delos, USA, which established the world’s first building standard focused exclusively on human health and wellness; Co-Chair of the International Well Building Institute Task Force on COVID-19 and other Respiratory Infections; and a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Clean Electrification. He was awarded the 2013 Alexander Schwarzkopf Prize from the US National Science Foundation “for exemplary research contribution to technology innovation and positive impact on technology, industry and the society as a whole.” He was conferred the inaugural iBuildSG LEAD Distinguished Fellow by the Building and Construction Authority, Singapore, in 2020.

A “Well & Green” Approach to A Sustainable and Resilient Educational Campus

The 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction by the GABC, launched in December of 2020, noted that “While the total final energy consumption of the global buildings sector remained at the same level in 2019 compared to the previous year, CO2 emissions from the operation of buildings have increased to their highest level yet at around 10 GtCO2, or 28% of total global energy-related CO2 emissions. With the inclusion of emissions from the buildings construction industry, this share increases to 38% of total global energy-related CO2 emissions”.

This statistic reveals to us that the marginal incremental gains made through so-called green building design are totally offset by building operation, most likely from a growing plethora of technologies that we introduce into our new buildings, as well as the constantly decreasing operational efficiency of our existing and aging building stock.

This lecture will attempt to address these challenges and offer some insights into practical implementation of effective design solutions using the School of Design and Environment academic buildings as demonstrative case studies. Two key takeaways to note are: (1) we need to be much more aggressive in targeting for net-zero energy buildings at scale (2) we have to genuinely embrace a people-centric approach and sustaining a symbiotic relationship between the natural and the built environment to enhance their well-being and overall quality of life.

Michael Wetter on “Quo Vadis Building Simulation – New Generation Computational Tools that Integrate Design and Operation”

November 18, 2021 at 1:00 pm ET | Zoom

Michael Wetter is a Staff Scientist at the Simulation Research Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). His research includes integrating building performance simulation tools into the research process, as well as their use for design and operation. He is leading the development of Spawn of EnergyPlus, a next-generation simulation engine for building and district energy and control systems, OpenBuildingControl, a project that digitizes the control delivery process, and the Modelica Buildings Library, the largest Modelica library for building energy and control systems. He has also been developing the Building Controls Virtual Test Bed software for co-simulation and model-based operation, co-simulation tools based on the Functional Mockup Interface standard and the GenOpt optimization program. Prior to joining LBNL, he led the development of building system models at the United Technologies Research Center (UTRC). He did his dissertation at the University of California at Berkeley and at LBNL, where he created the GenOpt optimization program and the BuildOpt building simulation program and where he developed the first building energy optimization technique that provably converges to the optimal building design. He is a recipient of the bi-annual Outstanding Young Contributor Award of IBPSA and of the bi-annual Distinguished Achievements in Building Simulation Award of IBPSA-USA.

Quo Vadis Building Simulation – New Generation Computational Tools that Integrate Design and Operation

Due to demands caused by climate change, the energy sector is undergoing a rapid transition. Energy systems for buildings and communities need to become decarbonized, grid-responsive, resilient, and adaptive to changes in usage, technology options, and markets. This leads to increased complexity in their design and operation. Fortunately, new energy systems provide an opportunity to integrate and optimize renewables and storage across multiple prosumers and energy carriers. New system architectures and control challenges emerge, as do new requirements on design flows that can manage the increased complexity. After laying out these challenges, we will present recent progress on new generation computational tools for building and district energy and control systems. We will also present new tool chains that allow for rapid system-level prototyping, model-based design flow and digitization, ranging from design to installation and operation. We will close with a discussion about what foundation our community should build to meet design and operation challenges of new energy systems.

Marilyne Andersen on “Radiant Indoors – Bridging Research and Practice”

October 21, 2021 at 1:00 pm ET | Zoom

Marilyne Andersen is a Full Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) and Head of the Laboratory of Integrated Performance in Design (LIPID). Her research focuses on the impact of daylight on building occupants around questions of comfort, perception, and health within an architectural design context. With a background in physics, she was a tenure-track professor at MIT from 2004 to 2010, was Dean of the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering at EPFL from 2013 to 2018, is Academic Director of the Smart Living Lab and co-founder of the consulting startup OCULIGHT dynamics, offering specialized consulting services on the psycho-physiological effects of light in design. Author of over 200 refereed scientific papers with several distinctions, she was the inaugural laureate of the global Daylight Research Award in 2016 and led the winning team for the US Solar Decathlon 2017 competition. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Building & Environment, LEUKOS and Buildings & Cities journals and member of the Board of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction as well as Head of its Academic Committee.

Radiant Indoors – Bridging Research and Practice

Natural light greatly impacts how a building is experienced by its occupants. It affects their well-being, notably from their health and biological clock perspectives, but also their perceived visual and thermal comfort, or their emotional response. If we want to support the design of places of delightful – and daylightful – living, we must bring these multifaceted considerations to become integral drivers of the creative process.
This lecture will explore current research efforts aiming towards a deeper integration of daylighting performance and indoor comfort in design, by reaching out to various fields of science, from chronobiology and neuroscience to psychophysics and computer graphics. It will also provide an example of how human-centered daylighting design can be supported by research outcomes to build a well-informed, evidence-based dialogue between specialists and practitioners.

Anne Beim on “Real Possibilities and Possible Realities: Absolute Sustainable Architecture, Materials and Tectonics”

April 22, 2021 at 12:00 pm ET | Zoom

Anne Beim is a Professor of Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy School of Architecture. She holds a MArch and a PhD in architecture from the Royal Danish Academy School of Architecture. Since 2004, she has been Chair of CINARK – Centre for Industrialized Architecture – a research center that works across the gap between architectural education, the construction industry, and the architectural profession. Since 2014, she has co-chaired the graduate program SET – Settlement, Ecology and Tectonics. From 2013 -2019, Professor Beim was chairman of the Danish Architectural Association’s Admissions Council, and from 2008-2010 she chaired the Architectural Committee for the Danish Art Foundation. Presently, she is a member of the Executive Council of the International Association of Structures and Architecture (IASA). She has also authored/co-authored multiple books: Circular Construction: Materials, Architecture & Tectonics (2019), Sustainability in Scandinavia: Architectural Design and Planning (2018), Towards an Ecology of Tectonics – The Need for Rethinking Construction in Architecture (2015), Building with an eye for the Future: Visions in Industrial Housing 1970 – 2011 (2012), Three Ways to Assembling a House (2009), Tectonic Visions in Architecture (2004), and Ecology & Architecture Quality (2002).

Real Possibilities and Possible Realities: Absolute Sustainable Architecture, Materials and Tectonics

The latest reports from UNEP, IEA and WWF point out that Man’s exploitation of nature’s resources, high emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere and worldwide waste streams have resulted in ecological systems out of balance when looking at the carrying capacity of the Earth. In this context, buildings and the construction sector are responsible for almost 40% of energy- and process-related emissions as well as the consumption of 40% of material resources (UNEP et al., 2019).

Thus, the ecological crisis calls for self-examination in the professional part of the construction sector, but also in academia amongst researchers and educators of architecture, planning and engineering. We are in a state of emergency and a growing number of experts proclaim that we have to act now, that we have to consider all potential solutions, and that the most effective ones must be implemented. This situation opens up new ways of conceiving architecture and tectonic building cultures that contain radically different solutions than those applied in present-day architecture and construction. In this talk, Professor Anne Beim will present a series of physical prototypes where absolute sustainable scenarios have been tested, resulting in new approaches to materials, construction techniques and how buildings are conceived and designed from a lifecycle perspective.

Darren Robinson on “Multiscale Simulation of Buildings as Complex Sociotechnical Systems

April 1, 2021 at 1:00 pm | Zoom

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). 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).

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.