Research line of Smart Cities

Smart Buildings & Hybrid Energy Systems

Buildings that improve quality of life

Future cities will harbor smart buildings that generate more energy than they use, capture rain water, purify the air, regulate temperature both indoor and outdoor, and provide thermal, visual and acoustic comfort for their inhabitants. The buildings will stimulate a sustainable, productive and healthy way of living and working. The SCP/e Smart buildings theme explores solutions to enable the development of these types of buildings and the necessary supporting systems.

Scientific challenges

At Eindhoven University of Technology, researchers work on the technology, the building and system design and the governance needed to make the transition toward smart buildings. Scientific questions that are addressed vary from How do we achieve a fundamental increase in the yield and applicability of solar panels? via In what way can we use multi-agents and deep learning strategies to match energy supply and demand in a smart way? to Can we design buildings that provide energy flexibility while increasing comfort and productivity? and How can we develop buildings that stimulate healthy behavior and enable ageing people to live independently?

Combination of strong scientific base with practical mindset

Eindhoven University of Technology combines in-depth and hands-on disciplinary knowledge of specific technology domains with experience in translating that knowledge into multidisciplinary application areas. TU/e harbors experts in areas such as materials science and heat transport, has a solid knowledge of the behavior of electricity networks and their components, contains the knowhow to deal with developments like blockchain, and has ample hands-on experience in developing and applying new technology for building management.

Within the dedicated inter-departmental PDEng program on Smart Buildings & Cities, new solutions are created through multiscale and transdisciplinary design approaches. The departments of Applied Physics, Chemistry & Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering together with the energy institute Differ work on new materials and solutions for energy conversion and storage and heat storage. The departments of Electrical Engineering and Mathematics and Computer Science develop the hardware, decision-making algorithms and software for the energy grid of the future. The departments of Built Environment, Industrial Design and Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences translate technological developments into solutions, products and services that are attractive, responsible, sustainable, and easy to use in buildings.

Finally, the strategic areas Energy, Health and Mobility bundle all of TU/e’s domain specific expertise relevant for the three most important societal challenges in smart buildings.

A truly smart building is not only one hundred percent sustainable in terms of energy, but also adds functionality for its inhabitants and environment. Energy supply and control in terms of electricity, heating and cooling will become increasingly integrated in buildings.

Thought leader Guus Pemen from the department of Electrical Engineering.


Routing and matching energy supply and demands

The massive integration of renewable energy generators such as solar panels and wind turbines, combined with new demand technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps, make it increasingly difficult to balance electricity supply and demand in such a way that grid stability and reliability is guaranteed at all times and all places.
The DISPATCH project takes a multi-disciplinary approach to overcome these challenges, and combines electrical engineering, advanced control theory and the use of novel ICT concepts such as multi agents and optimization modelling with appropriate legal and organizational instruments.

As part of this project, a pilot is conducted at the Johan Cruijff ArenA football stadium. Solar panels on the roof generate the electricity that is necessary to power the stadium. Excess electricity is stored in batteries supplied by Nissan, originating from used Nissan Leaf cars. After a certain amount of time, these batteries cannot charge and discharge fast enough anymore to meet the demands of the mobility market. But they still have more than enough capacity for other applications like energy storage in buildings. The excess electricity stored in the batteries is not only used for the stadium, but is also delivered to the metro nearby. This way investments in a new power grid infrastructure for the metro system can be postponed.

At the same time, smart buildings should provide optimal comfort for the people working or living there.  Therefore the challenge is to combine optimal personalized thermal, visual and acoustic comfort with requirements in the areas of sustainability and energy management.

Program manager Pieter Jan Hoes from the department of Built Environment. 

Project Smart Care Neighbourhoods

Design stimulating care environment in nursing homes

In her two-year PDEng project, Joyce Fisscher develops design principles for cognitive, physical and social stimuli that help transform the nursing home Sint Jozefsoord in Den Bosch into a stimulating living environment that improves quality of life for the seniors who live there.

For example, for people with dementia, the impact of disorientation is an important reason for admission to a nursing home. But the relocation itself increases the disorientation, resulting in stress and anxiousness. By developing design principles for the common used spaces in care homes such as the living room, corridors and garden, the project aims to make residents feel at ease and at home, to maximize the quality of life and to advance durably happiness in the last phase of life.

Several spatial, technological and care aspects are explored which have a positive or negative influence on the quality of life and/or feeling at home. Design principles will be developed to enhance the positive aspects and mitigate the negative aspects.