Structural façades & lifecycle assessment for tropical buildings

We seek optimal (considering lifecycle analysis (LCA)) design of inexpensive, large-scale, durable, flexible, adaptive layers that respond efficiently to environmental changes (optical and/or thermal), for the entire building envelope. In these activities, the following is considered: 1) implementation of sustainability concepts into design of green construction materials, 2) design of multi-functionality (strength, light permeability, thermal insulation, self-cleaning, etc.) into construction materials, and 3) systematic study of economic and environmental impact of the infrastructure via LCA. A translucent concrete (TC) panel design is constructed using optical fibers (OFs) to transmit light and common reinforced concrete mix design. This sub-system has the potential to save energy and reduce carbon footprint by collecting, channeling, and eventually scattering the sunlight. Constructability issues including mechanical and optical losses are analyzed and discussed. Numerical models are developed using ray tracing software and the light transmission mechanisms are analyzed. Nonimaging sunlight compound parabolic concentrators (CPCs) together with the OFs represent an efficient system for harvesting and guiding the sunlight into the interior spaces. The light transmission of a model consisting of a CPC and an OF is evaluated from an energy efficiency point of view. Thermal performances of the TC and traditional glass façade are being analyzed using finite element models. Due to effective thermal insulation properties, the energy efficiency of the TC is expected to behave better than the glass façade. Therefore, the three characteristics of the daylight conduction, load bearing capacity, and the thermal insulation make the TC a multi-functional façade sub-system. The potential of using this energy efficient sub-system in the context of MCDM will be explored. Further development of the TC panels with CPCs is currently under development with further testing and refinement. These activities will continue in Year 2. Moreover, additional simulations of the developed system will continue.

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