Research project aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, total energy use

August 5, 2013
In an effort to reduce CO2  emissions and total energy use from buildings, John Z. Zhai, associate professor of building systems engineering at CU-Boulder, is leading a research initiative to create self-regulated, multifunctional building enclosures serving as living walls, materials and systems.
According to the proposal, emissions and energy use can be reduced by developing and implementing innovative building envelope systems where most heating and cooling loads are transmitted and the majority of natural energy resources are directly available. This project will apply biomimetic design principles to develop intelligent, integrated building envelope systems based on smart materials and innovative structures. By 2030, the research aims to develop net-zero-energy buildings.
With preliminary results in mind, the new living wall concept is expected to reduce 80-95 percent of the current building energy needs for offsetting adverse heat losses and gains. Zhai expects for successful research to stimulate biomimetic design principles for developing sustainable energy-efficient engineering designs and reshaping current building design and construction philosophy and practice.
This research initiative is through the Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation office of the National Science Foundation as part of the Science in Energy and Environmental Design group. In addition to Zhai’s group, nine other interdisciplinary teams are looking incorporating Nano and micro-engineering principles for building-scale applications.