Advanced building façade design for optimal delivery of end use energy demand

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering


Buildings currently account for over 40% of the total UK energy consumption and a similar percentage of the UK CO2 emissions. The energy used in buildings is largely required for creating a thermally and visually comfortable environment for building occupants. Glazed façades play an important role in determining a building's energy performance and are called upon to perform a range of, sometimes conflicting, functions. They are required to i) regulate heat transfer to and from the external environment by solar and long wave radiation, conduction and convection ii) allow transmittance natural daylight to provide interior illumination, reducing the need for supplementary electric lighting and to provide an aesthetic function, both in terms of their influence on building appearance and providing occupants a visual link to the external environment. Improving fenestration energy performance can make a significant contribution to reducing building energy loads. It is reported that optimal glazing design could reduce residential building energy consumption by 10-50% in most climates, while for commercial, institutional and industrial buildings, a properly specified fenestration system could reduce lighting and air-conditioning costs by 10-40%.

We are going to carry out a holistic approach to develop advanced façades technologies to achieve building energy demand reduction goals. This compliments Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) objectives of energy demand within the 'building' & 'heat decarbonisation' theme of the centre. Low cost optical components will be designed and integrated into conventional double glazing, which will significantly increase the thermal resistance of the window, provide control of the solar heat gain, and enable windows to perform better than walls on a yearly basis in terms of their net energy balance. Building energy loads will be reduced significantly while providing comfortable daylight. The target is that when integrated in a typical commercial building the novel glazing façade system will provide comfortable annual daylight levels achieving over a 20% reduction in annual artificial lighting energy consumption, reduce space heating demand by over 30% in the heating season and cooling load by 20% in Summer. The integration in a façade system of active solar energy technologies with better performing windows may potentially lead commercial buildings to be a negative energy load on an annual basis.

Planned Impact

The principal commercial beneficiaries will be construction-related industries. In recent years there have been an increase in the demand for high performance glazing and façades, due to the increase demand for energy efficient buildings and changes in the Building Regulations. The proposed project aims to develop a range of advanced glazing façades, which can be effectively integrated into an existing building envelop component suitable for retrofit and new buildings. Prototypes of advanced glazing systems will be developed during the project and the performance data from a selection of test installations available for evaluation by companies. The project industry partners will be in a prime position to commercially exploit the output of the project. University of Nottingham, Loughborough University and University of Exeter all have dedicated business development teams, who will assist with commercial exploitation of the work. Throughout the project, an assessment will be made of the intellectual property arising and patents will be put in place where appropriate to facilitate commercial exploitation by the companies.

Building designers, glazing/materials manufacturers and installation companies also stand to benefit. The greater functionality and performance of advanced glazing will allow architects and building designers to explore new and more energy efficient design concepts. The reduction in weight and glazing bulk afforded by the advanced glazing in comparison to conventional glazing for a given level of performance level will make installation easier benefitting construction and glazing installation companies.
Building occupants and building owners will benefit from reduced energy costs, improved conditions and comfort and the reduced levels of building services required. The improved internal environmental conditions are likely to lead to improvements in health and economic productivity.

The fourth group of beneficiaries is likely to be government policy makers. A reduction in the energy consumption of buildings for heating, cooling and lighting will lead to an associated reduction in greenhouse gas and other emissions associated with their provision. Therefore, building energy use is a key issue that needs to be addressed by the government policies. A large scale deployment of the developed advanced glazing and innovative facade systems on a 5-10 year horizon would significantly contribute to the UK Government's ambition to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2050.

To deliver this impact, a number of workshops and dissemination events/exhibitions will be held during the project period (and the associated budget for the impact activities has been requested from the funder). The project consortium partners will also develop a long term (after the project is successfully completed) strategy to engage with academia, industry, policy makers and to further raise the awareness of the general public.
Description The project started on 1st July 2019. We had three project meetings in July, Nov 2019 and Feb 2020 as planned.
During the first two project meetings, based on our findings we discussed the current UK building regulation and the development of current facade technologies including technologies for daylight control, reduce window thermal resistance, and generate solar heat or electricity during our meeting, and made the plan for the proposed advanced facade system development with the support from our industrial partners. We also discussed the current progress of the project including the development of the switchable layer, edge sealing material for the fabrication of vacuum glazing, etc. The findings will be formed into a review article entitled 'Building façade technologies for the future: A review'. We have contacted the Editor in Chief from Applied Energy for this, who has invited us to submit this review article.
For February project meeting, we have reported our current development of the proposed advanced switchable transparent insulation facade, PV windows and vacuum insulation windows. We have selected suitable materials for the proposed system and characterised the selected materials.
Exploitation Route Industrial partners have been invited joining the current project meetings and also project advisory board to directly contribute to project development and provide guidance/suggestions for the proposed system development.
The current findings from the project will be published as a review article at Applied Energy.
The project team is also discussing to work with industrial partners to host a workshop in advanced facade and energy reduction in built environment either late this year and or later next year.
Sectors Energy