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Buildings post corona

The overall purpose of the proposed research is to support the building sector for future scenarios of impending climate change; to design, build and operate buildings that are healthy, use limited resources, and are climate resilient. Previous research has identified how extreme temperatures, with periods characterized by extreme cold and heat, place completely new demands on the climate systems in the buildings. Additionally, including the perspective of changes in the Earth's ecosystem, it is found that we likely will experience new types of airborne diseases beyond the C OVID-19 pandemic. Further, the escalating global increase in C O2 emissions calls for radial energy use reduction from the building sector.

Background 

Human activity has presently reached an unprecedented scale that radically affects the living conditions on Earth in both the short and long term. With that perspective, the current era is called the Anthropocene, the age of man. In the Anthropocene, we see the radical changes in Earth's climate and ecosystem caused by humankind. Climate change on Earth is currently rapidly escalating. Extreme weather conditions of wind, rain, and snow call for new demands on infrastructure in roads, bridges, and storm water systems. Extreme temperatures, with periods characterized by extreme cold and heat, place completely new demands on the climate systems in the buildings. Sea levels are rising, resulting in measures for those living in floodprone areas. With rapidly shrinking ecosystems and increasing global demand for food, the conditions for wild animals are also changing. The changed conditions mean that the diseases of the animals can cause new human pandemics. There are arguments that the current C OVID-19 pandemic may result from such a scenario.

The recent changes in the Earth's climate and ecosystem will, in many ways, have consequences for the indoor living conditions of us all. One future consequence is that extreme climate fluctuations will influence the design of installation systems in the buildings. That scenario requires new knowledge to provide space heating and cooling, and ventilation of the indoor air. Due to changes in the Earth's ecosystem, a second future consequence is the expectancy of new types of airborne diseases. This scenario refers to both the current COVID 19 pandemic and the likeliness of new airborne diseases in the future. A third future requirement related to climate change is that future building design and installations must become significantly more energy efficient. The buildings use 40% of the total supplied energy. Without a radical shift in the current energy use in the building, it will not be possible to meet the necessary societal goals to reduce the escalating climate change.

From the perspective of the impending changes in the Earth's climate and ecosystem, the principles of the integration of buildings' systems for space heating, cooling, and ventilation in the building design require extensive development. The future challenge is simultaneously to withstand increasingly extreme climate fluctuations, meeting future requirements for how to minimize the risk of airborne infection, and at the same time radically minimize energy use and conversion to renewable energy sources.

The challenges and the solutions related to buildings, healthy indoor environments, resource usage, and climate change are multidisciplinary. An opportunity to establish new knowledge development combining the described collaborative problems is to apply an interdisciplinary study with researchers utilizing their disciplinary perspective, collaborating with stakeholders with the societal connection providing both knowledge, systems, and indoor spaces.

Read more on the project website: www.buildingspostcorona.se

Project plan

This project's scope is to develop an interdisciplinary methodology for the operation and design of building with an indoor climate that meets future challenges of healthier air in a warmer world. This means (1) Integration of buildings' systems for space heating, cooling, and ventilation in the building design that meets extreme climate fluctuations; (2) Minimization of the risk of adverse health effects from poor indoor air, including transmission of airborne infection; (3) Reduction of the building energy end-use in order to reach a sustainable built environment with reduced environmental footprint. The project's overall goal is to establish an interdisciplinary platform to obtain new knowledge required for the design and operation of buildings that are healthy, use limited resources, and are climate-resilient. The project sub-goals are:

  • Establish and activate a collaboration network
    • to facilitate and promote holistic ways of working with the planning, construction, and maintenance of energy- and resource-efficient buildings with healthy indoor environments.
    • to coordinate expertise and available laboratory infrastructure (at all involved partners) to address project goals effectively.
    • to critically review current guidelines and ways of working related to the indoor climate and suggest updated guidelines and checklists for buildings owners/planners/contractors
  • Set up a methodology to design sustainable buildings with healthy indoor air and minimal risk of disease transmission. It includes
    • demonstrating a combination of models for comprehensive evaluation of indoor climate and airflow to develop and optimize new or existing HVAC systems in terms of relative humidity (RH), temperature, and inlet and outlet specifications.
    • introducing a machine learning approach to find optimal combinations of parameters from the perspective of combining the requirements of providing appropriate thermal comfort and reduce the risk of airborne infection and low energy use.
  • Evaluate the methodology in a demonstration project where we
    • conduct qualitative and quantitative surveys of the effectiveness of solutions implemented to diminish effects of heatwaves, the spread of airborne diseases, ventilation optimization, and energy minimization
    • test monitoring methodology for assessment of introduced solutions for indoor air quality, comfort with minimized spread of airborne diseases
    • to assess the influence of energy renovation on indoor air quality, the spread of pollutants, virusladen aerosols and thermal comfort
  • To suggest a best practice for the design of future sustainable buildings with a healthy indoor environment.

Research Team

  • Jonas Anund Vogel, Director of KTH Live-In Lab
  • Lars Ekberg, Adj Prof, Indoor Climate Technology, Building Services Engineering, Chalmers, CIT Energy Management AB
  • Aneta Wierzbicka, Assoc Prof, Ergonomics and Aerosol Technology, LTH, Coordinator of the Centre for Healthy Indoor Environments (CHIE)
  • Jakob Löndahl, Assoc Prof, Ergonomics and Aerosol Technology, LTH
  • Thomas Olofsson, Prof, Dept of Applied Physics and Electronics, Umeå University.
  • Sasan Sadrizadeh, Research Scientist, Docent, The division Sustainable Buildings, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Reference group

  • Britta Permats, C EO Swedish Ventilation
  • Rikard Silverfur, Head of Development & Sustainability Property Owners
  • Peter Brander, Expert unit for Health and C onstruction, Boverket
  • Erik Eklund, Security and IT, Länsgården Fastigheter, Örebro
  • Ulf Krüger, Investigation leader technology, Lokalförvaltningen Göteborg
  • Tomas Engdahl, Senior consultant HVAC , Bengt Dahlgren
  • Mikael Börjesson, Competence director SWEGON Group AB
  • Peter Karlsson, Innovation leader, Akademiska Hus
  • Mark Kretz, Swedish Society of Energy and Environmental Technology
  • Jimmy Åström, Product manager, Tovenco
  • Tony Gibbs, Project sales, Geberit
  • Micke Dimadis, Innovation Leader Einar, Mattsson

Would you like to be part of this network?

Donate to the project using bankgiro (KTH Research Fund) 5565-0790 alternativt Swish 123 172 69 00. It is important that you mark the donation with ”Byggnader post corona” so we can keep track of the donation.

Belongs to: KTH Live-In Lab
Last changed: Dec 30, 2021