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ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 7, Issue 6, (Part -3) June 2017, pp.12-22


Sustainability through Intelligence in Buildings

Nikoleta Parthenopoulou, Mrs,*
* PhD Candidate in Architectural Design and Architectural Technology
(School of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University Campus, Postal
Code 541 24, Thessaloniki

Energy efficiency and energy preservation are two primary worldwide concerns in current reality. Thus,
sustainability encompasses those two issues, giving that as a general term refers to the capacity to endure. In
architecture sustainability describes environmentally conscious design techniques, minimizing negative
environmental impact and enhancing efficiency in the use of materials, energy and space. In every level of
design and construction of a building, environmental issues should be taken into account. Each specific decision
and choice may have consequences for the environment. Sustainability through the proper and sound use of
materials is an obvious practice. Beyond that, intelligence integrated in buildings can promote energy efficiency
and wider life cycle. After a brief clarification of what intelligence in buildings entitles, a series of case studies
are presented in order to support the fact that in deed energy efficiency and energy preservation (in some cases
energy production as well) are achieved through the use of intelligent systems in structures.
Keywords: Sustainability, Building construction, Building Intelligence, Intelligent Systems

I. INTRODUCTION materials grant the whole, renders buildings

Sustainability as a general term refers to the intelligent machines, almost as living organisms,
capacity to endure. Sustainable development is the which react and/or adapt to changes around them.
development that meets the present needs without These characteristics are that give buildings the
compromising the ability of future generations to ability to endure and in a more effective manner,
meet their own needs (World Commission on without wasting precious resources.
Environment and Development, 1987). In
architecture sustainability describes environmentally II. SUSTAINABILITY
conscious design techniques, minimizing negative The term sustainability has emerged from
environmental impact and enhancing efficiency in the concerns about anthropogenic changes in climate and
use of materials, energy and space. This paper the wasteful use of limited resources of the earth.
analyzes building intelligence and the need for its Sustainability therefore involves the promotion of the
existence to serve the goal of sustainability and more efficient use of natural resources, the protection
energy autonomy. This building intelligence, as of the environment and the ecosystem, and also the
discussed below, can be achieved and served by the development of a more equitable global society
unique and innovative properties of Nanotechnology. (Khatib, 2009). The different dimensions and
The integration of new materials in buildings, as well approaches of sustainability are shown in the
as the development of special properties that the new following Venn diagram:

Figure 1. The different dimensions of sustainability (Khatib, 2009) DOI: 10.9790/9622-0706031222 12 | P a g e

Nikoleta Parthenopoulou. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Application
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 7, Issue 6, (Part -3) June 2017, pp.12-22

Currently sustainability is considered as an sufficient toughness and high heat capacity.

infinite process through the ecosystem, a dynamic Furthermore, concrete and its components should be
evolutionary way towards the improvement of extracted and produced in an environmentally sound
management of human and natural resources. In the manner.
construction field, sustainability is a matter of grave The viability of concrete as a material is
importance. In architecture sustainability describes affected by the cement and inert industry. The most
environmentally conscious design techniques, significant impacts of cement production relate to
minimizing negative environmental impact and energy usage and pollutant emissions during the
enhancing efficiency in the use of materials, energy production process and the use of raw materials. The
and space. In every level of design and construction energy consumption in the production of aggregates
of a building, environmental issues should be taken is relatively small, but the transfer from the point of
into account. Each specific decision and choice may production to point of use has a high energy impact.
have consequences for the environment. The During the production of concrete, the total energy
environment and the sustainability issues are survival used is not important. The environmental impacts of
issues, so it is necessary to be the primary priority. construction are not of major importance, compared
Among other competences an architect must have, to the contribution of the other phases of the life
the most fundamental is the effective design of cycle. The only case in which energy costs are not
buildings. The design is much more than the visual negligible is the drying of concrete (this refers only to
outcome, the aesthetic image of a product or a geographical areas with high humidity). Finally, the
building (Szokolay, 2004). In the context of process of demolishing the concrete structures and
sustainability, therefore, and viability, important crushing the waste material requires energy and
elements in the design process of a building are therefore leads to emissions. Hence, recycling or
materials and energy, besides the proper selection of reusing crushed concrete materials can be beneficial
the location. (Khatib, 2009).
The stone, for instance, as a structural As for metals, preventing erosion and
material is able to maintain centuries with minimal recycling should be at the forefront as a viable means
maintenance. It has excellent resistance to fire and it to exploit the maximum benefit from the energy
is not flammable nor gives off toxic fumes when invested in minerals. In the construction industry the
exposed to extreme temperatures. Timber, as well, value of the metal components, which are recovered
can be considered a renewable material. It is by the collapse of a structure, ensures the prospect of
environmentally friendly, ubiquitous, in abundance, their recycling. The reuse is one of the most viable
and through sustainable forest management can be and established approaches for the minimization of
continuously replenished, providing abundance of waste. The glass used in construction can be reused.
supply. In sustainable forests each tree collected is The only drawback is that it must be extracted from
replaced by another, which is developed naturally or the construction intact, which adds delays to the
planted. demolition. Additionally, the glass can only be reused
Wood has unique environmental benefits if the size and the color are suitable. A lifecycle
compared with other competing materials, such as management system (LMS) in terms of sustainability
concrete, aluminum, steel, plastic and glass. It is the is a systematic approach to the organization and
most effective material in terms of integrated energy execution of all activities involved in the various
and environmental impacts. The log processing of phases of the design of a structure, including the
trees for the reproduction of wood products requires design, the construction and the acceptance by the
little energy compared to other construction client, the inspection of the building during its use
materials, and thus leads to minimum emission of (monitoring), the maintenance, the alteration and the
gases and release of pollutants to the environment degradation of a structure (a full life cycle). A
(Khatib, 2009). An environmentally sustainable flexible support structure must facilitate the floor
concrete construction is one that is manufactured in a plans, the technical installations and the building
manner where the overall environmental impact over services to be easily converted over the life of the
its life cycle (including its usage) is reduced to a building, in cases of usage alterations. The objective
minimum. This means that the building will be of the building stock analysis is to find defects in
designed and completed in an ideal way for use, ie current design concepts and to define the principles
with a fixed life cycle, fixed loads, specific for their elimination, in order to make the concrete
environmental impacts, maintenance strategies, construction sustainable (Thielen, Wiens & Hauer,
heating needs etc. This is achieved by exploiting the 2007).
intrinsic properties of concrete, such as high strength, DOI: 10.9790/9622-0706031222 13 | P a g e

Nikoleta Parthenopoulou. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Application
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 7, Issue 6, (Part -3) June 2017, pp.12-22


The term "intelligence" refers to the Similar to the human skin structure the
possession of intellectual properties that provide the building envelope can be developed. A key feature of
ability to understand and adapt. When this term is the function of the human skin that finds similar
used to describe inanimate mechanisms, there should application in buildings is the heat recovery process.
be a clarification of the use in order to avoid The building skin must provide a specific level of
misunderstandings. One should always take into impermeability and efficient performance of
account the difference between "artificial ventilation systems. It must stay unaffected by
intelligence" and the complex intelligence of the weather conditions and for this purpose the cladding
human brain (intellectual intelligence). should have multiple levels of protection against
With artificial intelligence, objects acquire ingress of water. In many cases the building envelope
the ability to perform functions similar to those that receives also loads (wind, earthquakes, weight of
characterize human behavior, mimicking the construction). Additionally, it must mitigate heat
reasoning process of living beings. One of the most transfer between internal and external environment,
appropriate comparisons of biological data with so as to ensure the formation of internal comfort
intelligent buildings is the analogy of the human skin conditions with less energy required (Roberts &
with the shell of a building. The installed sensors of a Guariento, 2009). Generally, the thermal comfort of a
building can recognize fire or intruders in the same room depends on many factors such as air
way that human senses recognize any danger. The temperature and temperature changes, the
case of "intelligent buildings" results from the ever temperature radiated from the elements of the
increasing demands for comfort that accompany the environment, the air movement, the hydrostatic
development of complex building forms and pressure, the quantity of clothes people inside the
contents, with the consequent increase in energy building wear and the users activity. The comfort
requirements. One of the key functions of a building factors such as light, sound, air quality and humidity
is to protect residents from extreme external climatic (fresh air, condensation, absorption) can be
conditions. The inability of an inert passive building configured with an appropriately designed building
to provide comfort conditions are the cause for the skin (Randall, 2006).
existence of the supporting systems developed An "intelligent" glass faade can be adjusted
therein. The intelligence may be used to improve the in a dynamic way, almost as it is alive, in changing
performance of the building, making it more likely to weather conditions, adjusting systems of solar control
reduce the need for energy input for heating, cooling, and thermal protection. The term "intelligent" shows
lighting and ventilation. A combination of an the ability to adapt to daily or seasonally changing
automatic control and pseudo-instinctual responses to climatic conditions, in order to achieve a reduction in
these variable conditions can contribute to improve energy consumption of the building. A faade can
the living conditions and the operational efficiency in only be called intelligent when natural and
terms of energy, bringing the idea of zero energy renewable energy sources are used, such as solar,
buildings closer to reality. The office building - City wind or geothermal energy, to reserve the needs of
Place - by Owings & Merrill Skidmore in Hartford the building for heating, cooling and lighting.
(1984), in Connecticut (USA) is considered as the (Compagno, 2002)
first "intelligent" building in the world. In essence it The idea of a building skin with multiple
is a building, which has integrated a large number of features was originally proposed by Michael Davies
automated support systems (fiber optic cables in 1981. He presented the idea of a multi-functional
throughout the building connecting an integrated set shell that would act as a device for absorption,
of operation systems). Ultimately, this building is far emission, transmission, reflection and filtering at
from the true artificial intelligence. According to the nanoscale. Following this proposal, the intelligent
prevailing opinion about intelligence, intelligent skin has now grown into a cover of the building
buildings are just electronically enhanced which has the ability to alter the thermophysical
architectural forms. (Wigginton & Harris, 2002) properties, to transform from clear to opaque, to
The emergence of intelligent buildings in the change its color and to present various optical
foreground takes the architectural design on a new properties. This can be accomplished either by
phase. The requirements are more and diverse, and natural elements mounted in the building skin, or at
their treatment with the aid of new materials and nanoscale through materials with inherently variable
construction technology leads to the creation of new properties, such as chromogenic film (e.g.
forms and new aesthetics. Form and function are now photochromic, electro chromic materials). The idea
simple factors to a more complex technology and of introducing the concept of variability in the
design equation. To this are added other factors, such material itself offers huge advantages. (Wigginton &
as intelligent buildings, intelligent design, intelligent Harris, 2002)
materials - technologies - functions. DOI: 10.9790/9622-0706031222 14 | P a g e

Nikoleta Parthenopoulou. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Application
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 7, Issue 6, (Part -3) June 2017, pp.12-22

Some examples of intelligence in buildings this reactionary behavior is for the building to retain
are presented below. The capacity for adaptation and inside the comfort conditions that were prescribed for
flexibility of the reactions to changing environmental it in advance (design).
conditions are briefly analyzed. The sole purpose of

Figure 2. The Green Building project 1990 (Compagno, 2002).

Figure 3. Schematic sections that show the airflow: warm air rises into the gap of the faade and exits through
vents at the top of the building. This drops the pressure from the vacuum of the faade, which then draws fresh
air into the atrium (left). Heating and cooling are provided via separate water return system (right) (Compagno,
The Green Building: this research project faade and leaves through openings on the roof of the
(Jan Kaplicky, Amanda Levete, Tom Baker, Andy building. As a result of this process, negative
Sedgwick, Mike Beaven, 1990) represents a first pressure is caused inside the gap of the faade and,
attempt to reduce artificial ventilation and replace it when windows are opened, air is drawn through the
with natural methods. The bearing structure consists atrium, providing natural ventilation. In colder
of a form of tripod, where the floor slabs are seasons, the outdoor air, which is drawn from the
suspended from. Although the double-skin faade lower part, is preheated by the thermal energy
offers protection from noise and exhaust fumes, it recovered by evaporative air. The solar control and
was originally formed in order to allow natural protection from glare are regulated by independently
ventilation. The air elevates in the patio, if heated by adjustable blinds. The floor slabs, which act as
the radiation of space, and as it rises, fresh air enters thermal storage, absorb the extra heat during the day
through vents in the lower parts of the building. At and cool down by natural ventilation at night.
the same time, hot air elevates inside the gap of the (Compagno, 2002) DOI: 10.9790/9622-0706031222 15 | P a g e

Nikoleta Parthenopoulou. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Application
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 7, Issue 6, (Part -3) June 2017, pp.12-22

Figure 4. The main entrance hall at the New Trade Fair Center in Leipzig, 1996. The room is ventilated naturally through
regulated openings at the base and the top of the glass dome. A white, reflective surface is used to control the sunlight
(Compagno, 2002).

Figure 5. The glass panels are suspended by articulated support points. On the south elevation and the perimeter of the roof,
the panels have a white, reflective coating that serves controlling the incoming light (Compagno, 2002)

The main entrance hall at the New Trade degrees. Natural ventilation is achieved by openings
Fair Center in Leipzig (Gerkan Marg & Partners, Ian at the base of the glass dome. Due to the geometry of
Ritchie Architects, 1996) is an example of an the dome, airflow is generated even when there is no
environmentally friendly building with a single shell. wind in the external environment. Office Building in
The vaulted glass roof creates a space, which is Garston, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom (1994-1996,
protected from weather conditions, controls climate Feilden Clegg Architects) AKA the environmental
and serves as a reception, information center and building: The new Environmental Building at
distribution point of the exhibition halls. The glass Garston has been built as a demonstration building
hall (250m length, 80m width, 30m height) is a for the Energy Efficient Office of the Future (EoF)
structure of an elaborate metal truss with transparent performance specifications, drawn up by a number of
glass panels in the inner side. The frame consists of companies representing the manufacturers, designers
ten connected arcs, and below it a vaulted metal and installers of building components and the fuel
trellis is mounted. Glass is suspended from the lattice utilities. The building was intended to be an
through stainless steel links. Natural greenhouse exemplary application of high-tech environmental
effect generates comfort conditions throughout the design. The constructed building was announced by
year without the need for additional measures. Only the government as a "prime example of British
during the winter further heating (through floor innovation" and was acclaimed as a "Millennium
system) is needed to increase inner temperature by 8 Product. DOI: 10.9790/9622-0706031222 16 | P a g e

Nikoleta Parthenopoulou. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Application
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 7, Issue 6, (Part -3) June 2017, pp.12-22

Figure 6. The faade of the environmental building (Wigginton, Harris, 2002)

Figure 7. The faade of the Gtz building (Wigginton, Harris, 2002)

The most striking feature of the building Architects): the Gtz building is the headquarters of a
when seen from the south side is the five distinctive curtain-wall cladding systems manufacturer. The new
ventilation shafts running up the faade. These form a building houses the departments of the company
key part of the energy-saving natural ventilation and related to sales, management and design, in an open
cooling system. Working rather like a greenhouse, and bright two-storey pavilion of metal and glass.
the summer sun shines into the glass-fronted shafts, The fully glazed double faade is the
warming the air inside. This warmed air naturally keystone of the energy concept of the building,
rises out of the stainless steel 'chimneys' and causes controlling the air circulation in the building,
air from inside the building to be drawn through to optimizing the lighting conditions in the buildings
replace it. On a breezy day the movement of air interior and making a considerable contribution to the
across the tops of these chimneys increases this usage of solar energy. The double faade is
'stack' effect. On very warm, still days, low-energy comprised of two layers of double-glazing separated
fans in the tops of the stacks can be turned on to give by a gap of 600mm. Sets of openings at the ground
greater airflow. To make maximum use of available and at the roof level of the faade and enable outside
daylight the building has a large glass area, carefully air to circulate within the gap. The amount of the air
optimized to provide high light levels but low heat is controlled by automatically adjustable flaps. For
losses and solar gain. To prevent excessive heating ventilation purposes, sliding doors and high-level
and glare from the sun shining in the building has a windows on the inner skin may be opened manually
system of Colt motorized glass louvres on the south as required. (Baird, 2001) Fans situated in the corners
faade to control the daylight levels (BRE, 2000). of the cavity switch on to redistribute the warm air
Finally, a sophisticated building management system from the sunny to shaded faces of the building. 250
controls the heating, the ventilation and the cooling sensors monitor a wide range of conditions measured
system to achieve optimal conditions (thermal throughout the interior, and also outside the building,
comfort conditions). Gtz Headquarters in and a computer compares these, using fuzzy logic
Wrzburg, Germany (1993-1995, Webler-Geissler and neural network systems, with past situations and DOI: 10.9790/9622-0706031222 17 | P a g e

Nikoleta Parthenopoulou. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Application
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 7, Issue 6, (Part -3) June 2017, pp.12-22

the responses then made which are stored in its works with solar heat, earth-to-air heat exchangers, a
memory. Occupancy sensors in workplaces activate wood pellet oven, ventilation with heat recovery, and
artificial lighting. Daylight collectors monitor the low temperature radiant ceiling and floor heating.
progress of the sun and supply a heat pump, which The collected rainwater is automatically filtered and
provides heating and cooling, while additional reused. On the roof of the Heliotrope you will find a
cooling can be effected with nocturnal ventilation large mounted photovoltaic unit. Additionally affixed
activated by ventilation flaps, sliding internal as balcony railings are vacuum-solar thermal
windows and removable roof. (The Architectural collectors, which yield high energy gains for hot
League of New York, 2000) Heliotrope - The water and heating. The mounting system and rotation
Rotatable Solar House, Freiburg, Germany (1994, mechanism of the Sun Sail were completely newly
Prof Rolf Disch, Architect): The cylindrical building developed: the panel tracks the sun throughout the
has on one side triple-paned thermal insulated glass day automatically and computer controlled turning
(U-value 0.5) and is on the other side highly independently from the building itself and
thermally insulated (U-value 0.12). Exposed to the additionally it pivots in steep and flat angled
sun with the open fronts special windows, the positions. (Rolf Disch , 2009) It is obvious that this
maximum possible energy and light is let into the building is not only harvesting sunlight for energy
home. Reverse for the hot summer days, the house use and gain, it also preserves resources and it
will turn its insulated backside to the sun, to keep the doesnt make use of environmentally harmful
home comfortably cool. And in addition, the chemicals.
optimization of ecological technology comes into the

Figure 8. The Heliotrop building (Wigginton, Harris, 2002)

SUVA House, Extension and Alteration of solution of a glass enclosure covering both new
an Apartment and Office Building in Basel, (offices and apartments) and old building. The glass
Switzerland (1988-1993, Herzog & die Meuron enclosure unites old and new into an acute corner
Architekten): There were two options for enlarging building giving it a coherent urban presence. At the
the SUVA Basel branch: demolition of the existing same time, the transparency and operation of the
1950's building to give way for an entirely new glass panels reveal the configuration as a
building or an addition making use of the corner site. conglomerate of two volumes. (Herzog, DeMeuron,
The retention of the old building gave rise to the 2010) The new outer shell consists of a triple series DOI: 10.9790/9622-0706031222 18 | P a g e

Nikoleta Parthenopoulou. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Application
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 7, Issue 6, (Part -3) June 2017, pp.12-22

of windows glass panels in frames of aluminum- the building, and the center row, which is located in
controlled by a computer. The upper row has front of the viewing windows, is opened
prismatic panels, which are adjusted depending on electronically from inside. The building management
the angle of the sun, the lower row has openings system measures direct and diffuse radiation, the
closed in winter and open in summer, so as to create temperature of the facade and the wind speed. In
a greenhouse effect in front of the solid component of winter the outer shell remains sealed to save energy.

Figure 9. The front view of the SUVA house (Wigginton, Harris, 2002)

Figure 10. The comparative analysis between three buildings (Dewidar, Mahmoud, Magdy, & Ahmed, 2010).

Likewise, the study of Dewidar, Mahmoud, Surfaces Werner Sobek: The experimental
Magdy, & Ahmed, a comparison of intelligent construction R129 attempts to exploit all modern
systems integrated in three buildings, has shown the available innovative means of nanotechnology,
direct positive effect of the utilization of intelligence sensor technology and general achievements of
in builgings on energy. The comparative analysis of research on materials science, to design a multi-
the three case studies is given briefly in the table functional, energy efficient and structurally
shown in figure 10. sophisticated light building envelope. The overall
Supplementary, the following two cases presented appearance and details of the skin reflect strong
involve the development of intelligent building skins: influences from the aerospace and automotive sector. DOI: 10.9790/9622-0706031222 19 | P a g e

Nikoleta Parthenopoulou. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Application
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 7, Issue 6, (Part -3) June 2017, pp.12-22

R129 is designed to be used either by a person or a functionality. Thanks to the application of an

group of people, for work or occupation. The skin electrochromic foil, which can be controlled
consists of light and transparent plastic. Carbon electrically, the skin can be darker or made
elements that add lateral reinforcement are embedded completely opaque, as a whole or in different parts.
in the structure. The combination of different nano- The flooring encloses under floor heating and other
coatings, such as electrochromic films, capable of supporting building operating systems. (Klooster,
switching properties in order to provide shading, and 2009).
thin solar cells, offer the skin high degree of

Figure 11. Floor plan and side elevation of R129 (Werner Sobek Group, 2015).

Figure 12. The original concept which incorporated innovative materials such as phase change materials,
organic LEDs, organic photovoltaic cells and organic thin film transistors (Timberlake, K., 2016)

Smart Wrap Kieran Timberlake: The research in order to meet the requirements of shelter, climate
and development of SmartWrap began in control, lighting, information display, and power. In
collaboration with industry partners, including 2008, the original concept for SmartWrap was
DuPont and ILC Dover (best known for creating refined and advanced through the design of
space suits for NASA). The concept needed to Cellophane House, a 1,800-square foot (167m2)
combine several technologies from various industries dwelling commissioned by The Museum of Modern DOI: 10.9790/9622-0706031222 20 | P a g e

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Art. To experiment with active and passive thermal REFERENCES

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