The "EDCE PhD Mobility Award" honors Jan Brütting

Jan Brütting, PhD student at the Structural Exploration Lab (SXL) is a winner of the "EDCE PhD Mobility Award", May 2018. This award is given by the doctoral program in Civil and Environmental Engineering (EDCE) to encourage the best PhD students within the program to go for an academic visit to an external research institution. Read Jan Brütting's testimony about his PhD research and his future academic visit to Belgium.
"I am currently developing my PhD research at the Structural Xploration Lab (SXL), which is part of the smart living lab in Fribourg. We conduct research at the interface of architecture and structural engineering with the aim of tackling global environmental problems caused by the building sector: exhaustive resource and energy consumption. My research focuses on the integration of circular economy principles in the structural design process. Circular economy advocates a closed loop flow of materials and components to extend their service life. For this purpose, I have developed structural optimization formulations that facilitate the design of reticulated structures, reusing a stock of reclaimed structural elements. At the same time, structural optimization remains a theoretical answer to the idea of integrating reuse in structural design practice. Gaining insight into real case applications is crucial to understand the potential drivers but also the limitations of this paradigm. From this standpoint, I will substantiate my research through a stay at two host institutions in Belgium, namely theKatholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) and theVrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).
A stay at the Faculty of Engineering Science at KUL in collaboration with Prof. Mattias Schevenels, who is renowned for his work in the field of structural optimization, will be a valuable addition to my current optimization method. An extension of my methods to new structural typologies is a planned outcome of this stay. A second host will be the multi-disciplinary TRANSFORM lab at VUB, led by Prof. Niels de Temmerman, who conducts applied research on transformable buildings and component reuse as a response to above introduced environmental challenges of the built environment. Their experience can inform my developed methods with practical constraints that need to be considered to facilitate the design of structures in a circular manner."

Interview with Dusan Licina, Head of the new Human-Oriented Built Environment Lab

Dusan Licina was appointed as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Indoor Environmental Quality at the School for Architecture, Civil, and Environmental Engineering (ENAC) at EPFL. He leads the new smart living lab's research group Human-Oriented Built Environment Lab (HOBEL) in Fribourg since 1 June 2018.

1.    You just arrived at the smart living lab, which includes EPFL, HEIA-FR and UNIFR. What are your first impressions about this interdisciplinary research center?
I’ve been following development of the smart living lab since its very inception. While the institution is still relatively young and many researcher (including me) are considered newcomers, I think that a substantial amount of work has been done so far. Nevertheless, I feel that we have just scratched the surface, and that many new projects and partnerships are ahead of us. Future looks bright!

2.    Can you tell us more about your career in academia?
Throughout my academic career, I’ve specialized in air quality engineering, focusing on sources and transport of air pollutants in buildings, human exposure assessment, and optimization of building ventilation systems with an aim to improve air quality. I moved around quite a bit. I completed my joint Doctorate degree at the National University of Singapore and Technical University of Denmark. Before that, I completed my MSc and BSc degrees in mechanical engineering (University of Belgrade). Last couple of years I spent at both West and East coast of the USA – first I was a postdoc at the University of California Berkeley, after which I moved to New York where I worked on the development of the first rating system that focuses exclusively on the impacts of buildings on human health and wellness. It’s time to settle down!

3.    What are you most excited about your appointment as Head of the new Human-Oriented Built Environment Lab?
I’m excited about building relationships and collaborations with my new colleagues, as well as building a whole new team of enthusiastic & bright students and postdocs that will (hopefully) become the future leaders in the field. I am also thrilled about ongoing smart living lab's building project that, once completed, will be one of the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly buildings worldwide.

4.    What will your research focus on over the coming year?
My professional obsession is to develop a strong research program that will advance knowledge of the intersections between people and the built environment. Broadly speaking, the key mission of my lab is to ensure that high indoor environmental quality for building occupants in achieved in an energy efficient manner. In the coming years, HOBEL will strive to improve our knowledge in domains of indoor air quality, assessment of human exposure to airborne pollutants, dynamics and fate of pollutants in buildings, advanced ventilation systems and controls, development of tools and methods for enhanced building environmental monitoring, thermal comfort of humans and their behaviour.

5.    What inspires you about the built environment of the future and its research schemes?
Despite great advancements in building sustainability, I think that on a global scale there is still a considerable gap between where we are now and where we want to be. We must not forget about developing economies where we can create the biggest influence on people’s lives through our research, innovation and implementation. Raising awareness about the air quality issues worldwide is important and I hope that smart living lab will contribute to this effort. Buildings of the future must not only be energy efficient, but they should also contribute to “Michelin Star” air quality.

6.    Whenever you are not doing research, what are you interested in?
Spending time with family and friends is very important to me. I’m passionate for discovering new places and getting to know people, their cultures and traditions from all over the world. I enjoy working out, swimming and hiking in the nature, but my favourite sport/hobby is playing pool. When I was a kid, I always dreamt of having a house with specially dedicated room with a pool table (yes, I am still the very same kid). I also play the accordion, piano and classical guitar, even though I cannot say that I am particularly good at them. Definitely need to dedicate more time to studying French!

ASHRAE honors Dusan Licina
Dusan Licina, Head of the Human-Oriented Built Environment Lab (HOBEL) at smart living lab, has just received the Ralph G. Nevins Physiology & Human Environment Award at the ASHRAE Annual Conference on 23-27.06.2018 in Houston. The award is given to an investigator for significant accomplishments in the study of man’s response to the environment and its effect on human comfort, health, and well-being. Through research, standards writing, publishing, certification and continuing education, ASHRAE and its 57'000 members worldwide strive to advance human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment.

Contact Dusan Licina

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ASHRAE Website

The Grand Council grants a credit for the smart living lab’s building

To meet the 2050 energy goals by 2022: this is the challenge of the smart living lab’s future building at blueFACTORY. On 19 June 2018, the Grand Council of the Canton of Fribourg approved a refundable loan of 25 million francs for the construction of the building by 92 votes to 3.

The pioneering building will be sustainable and constantly evolving, and will inlcude laboratories, classrooms, and offices for over a hundred researchers. In this multiple-use context, the building itself will become an object of study in the quest for solutions to reduce power consumption, and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.


Illustrations: Amélie Poncety
Direction: Take Off Productions

The smart living lab is guest of honor at energissima

The center for research on future habitat, the “smart living lab”, will use interactive displays to showcase its areas of competence as well as the NeighborHub, the solar house designed by students and winner of the Solar Decathlon 2017 in Denver, USA. The trade exhibition dedicated to energy solutions and sustainable technologies will take place from 12 to 15 April 2018 in Bulle.

Zero carbon stand

Guest of honor at energissima, the smart living lab will occupy a privileged position at the heart of the exhibition, which will be held from 12 to 15 April 2018 in Bulle. Its stand will showcase research areas related to sustainable architecture: well-being and behaviors, construction technologies, energy systems, interaction and project processes. Occupying almost 50m2, its exhibition space is a subtle reference to the concept of circular economy and provides an example of a “zero carbon” construction. Aiming to reduce its CO2 footprint, the smart living lab has thus designed the structure of its stand to use leftover wooden boards from those used for the construction of the NeighborHub, the solar house that won the Solar Decathlon 2017 in Denver, USA. The stand’s lighting consists entirely of low energy LEDs. Furthermore, the transport of the materials and the journeys of staff will be optimized to ensure a minimal carbon footprint.
Interactively showcasing research projects

Researchers from the smart living lab, which brings together the competences of the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (HEIA-FR) and the University of Fribourg (UNIFR) have gone to extra lengths to showcase their work in an interactive form, thanks to interdisciplinary research project demonstration devices. Among the six proposed exhibits, visitors will discover the board game “Reste SEN”, in which each player becomes a project manager who must hire the most capable professionals when confronted with the various difficulties that occur throughout a construction project, or the display entitled “Build – Unbuild – Repeat”, which allows the visitor to disassemble and reassemble a construction system according to all possible spatial configurations, or the “CROWD ENERGY” model, which visualizes the production, the storage as well as the energy transfer within a neighborhood. The research groups of the smart living lab will be on hand to guide the public through their discovery of these flagship projects. For those expressing further interest, technical factsheets will also be available for delving deeper into center’s research focuses, related to energy efficiency and digitalization.

Hear from the NeighborHub’s designers

Recently reassembled on the site of the blueFACTORY and open to the public on 28-29 April 2018, the solar house NeighborHub will seize the opportunity offered by energissima to the smart living lab by establishing exchanges between its designers and the public. Marilyne Andersen, professor and faculty dean at the EPFL, and president of the scientific commission of the smart living lab, will speak on 12 April at 5:00PM, as part of the official inauguration of the exhibition. On the afternoon of Sunday 15 April, discover the success story behind the NeighborHub during the public conference entitled «Le NeighborHub: la maison solaire suisse gagnante du US Solar Decathlon 2017» (“The NeighborHub: the Swiss solar house, winner of the US solar Decathlon 2017”), during which the audience will hear from Anne-Claude Cosandey, operational director of EPFL Fribourg/smart living lab and Axelle Marchon, student manager in architecture, in charge of the project’s promotion.

The building of the smart living lab before the Grand Council of Fribourg

Press relase of the State of Fribourg on 16 March 2018: the project of the smart living lab's experimental building will be brought before the Grand Council of Fribourg.

The experimental building of the smart living lab will be submitted to the Grand Council of Fribourg at a forthcoming session. Considering the important growth rate of the research center, temporarily hosted in the Blue Hall, the project has been resized and the State Council has already accepted enlarging its surface by 1000 m2, and decided to add 5 Million Swiss Francs for this purpose. Read the full press release (in French or German).


Video soon available in English
Illustrations: Amélie Poncety
Direction: Take Off Productions

The NeighborHub is back

After its success at the international Solar Decathlon 2017 competition in Denver, USA, the NeighborHub is coming back to life at the smart living lab in Fribourg. The Swiss solar house, designed by the students and professors of four schools (EPFL, HEIA-FR, HEAD and UNIFR), is being rebuilt on the blueFACTORY site. The NeighborHub offers alternatives that brings citizens together to encourage them to go towards a more sustainable future. It will open its doors to the public on 28 and 29 April 2018 and thematic visits will follow.

For more than 2 years, 250 students, including 43 solar decathletes present in Denver, 150 supervisors from the professional and academic sectors and nearly 50 partners will have participated in the Swiss Living Challenge project. They designed the solar house NeighborHub, winner of the international sustainable housing competition Solar Decathlon 2017, with 8 podiums out of 10 competitions, including 6 gold medals.

Now, the 70 tons of equipment needed for the reconstruction of the NeighborHub are back in Fribourg, after crossing the Atlantic in twelve containers. The building phase began in mid-February and is led by some of the supervisors and students who were in Denver. It will run for two months.

Ideally located in the innovation district of blueFACTORY, close to the smart living lab that gave birth to it, the solar community house will be a meeting place that brings the local residents together and imagine with them solutions to consume less and better. There will be tools and alternatives around seven levers of action: the use of renewable energies, mobility, water and waste management, food, biodiversity and the choice of materials. Visitors will benefit from advice, interactive activities and conferences on these themes, at the open doors scheduled on 28 and 29 April 2018, and on request.

More information and registration for thematic guided tour

Embodied Carbon in Buildings: Book out now

Catherine De Wolf, postdoctoral researcher at the Structural Xploration Lab, has just co-edited the book "Embodied Carbon in Buildings | Measurement, Management, and Mitigation" (Springer, 2018), which provides a single-source reference for whole life embodied impacts of buildings. The comprehensive and persuasive text, written by over 50 invited experts from across the world, offers an indispensable resource both to newcomers and to established practitioners in the field. Ultimately it provides a persuasive argument as to why embodied impacts are an essential aspect of sustainable built environments.

The book is divided into four sections: measurement, including a strong emphasis on uncertainty analysis, as well as offering practical case studies of individual buildings and a comparison of materials; management, focusing in particular on the perspective of designers and contractors; mitigation, which identifies some specific design strategies as well as challenges; and finally global approaches, six chapters which describe in authoritative detail the ways in which the different regions of the world are tackling the issue.

Read the related article "Accurately measuring embodied carbon in buildings"

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