Buildings consume almost 40% of all our energy and materials and therefore contribute to a large extent to the energy problem, to air pollution and to climate change. In addition, people spend 80 to 90% of their time indoors, and the rest of the time often in human-shaped outdoor (built) environments. Preservation of energy and limitation of the environmental impact while providing a healthy and comfortable indoor and outdoor environment are essential requirements for the built environment. The EU has formulated strict targets and wants to achieve an energy-neutral built environment in 2050. Research in the domain of building physics and building services is essential to achieve the necessary innovation for sustainability. Energy-neutral and climate-neutral buildings are only the beginning. A truly sustainable habitat has energy generation near the end user, combined with energy storage and smart control technologies. Designing and operating buildings and built environments that are sustainable, healthy and comfortable is an unprecedented challenge.
It is this quest that is at the basis of the research program Building Physics & Services (BPS). This can only be achieved by a holistic approach to be able to tackle the complexity of the problems at hand. To more clearly express this holistic research perspective, the name of the research program was changed from Physical Aspects of the Built Environment (PhBE), into Building Physics & Systems (BPS), and later to Building Physics & Services (BPS).
The common long-term vision within the BPS research program is articulated as follows:
“World-class excellent research in the different disciplines in Building Physics & Services to strongly contribute to a healthy, comfortable and sustainable indoor and outdoor built environment, taking into account economical, ecological and energetic constraints”.
In the academic research environment, focus is not only placed on building physics (experimental, theoretical and numerical modeling of physical aspects in the indoor and outdoor environment and the building envelope, such as heat, air and moisture transfer, wind, light and acoustics, simulation of behavior of buildings, systems, components and materials), but also on the design process related to sustainable buildings. The combination of such expertise in the built environment with focus on energy, comfort and health aspects of the indoor and outdoor environment is unique.
The mission of the research program is to contribute to research in the built environment in the field of Building Physics & Building Services:
- scientific: fundamental and applied research; design and testing of solutions in prototypes, models, simulation and systems in practice;
- societal: focus on sustainability and comfort in a broad sense;
- knowledge dissemination to building designers and practitioners;
- information and communication technology: development of modern design tools;
- synergy and interaction between education, research and practice.
A good example of the interaction and synergy between education, research and practice is the first year course Building Physics design, in which all chairs participate and present their discipline. Another example is the master project Integral Design in which students of architecture, structural engineering, building physics and building services work together on a design task during a semester and which is coordinated by BPS. Finally, the building acoustics chair of the unit BPS shares the acoustics laboratory with the spin-off company Level Acoustics. The collaboration of both groups leads to a cross-fertilization of academic research and education at one side and with the consultancy practice at the other side.
The group’s objective emerges from the vision and mission. The research within the program yields scientific results that contribute to the understanding and knowledge of physical behavior of buildings and environments and of Integral Building Design (processes). The research program also provides knowledge to the building industry and engineering consultancy firms.
During the last years, BPS has increasingly taken a leading role in energy, health and sustainability related programs, not only in the department of the Built Environment but also nationally and internationally. Examples are its role in the Eindhoven Energy Institute, where Jan Hensen is theme leader Built Environment, its role in the 4TU (4 Universitiesof Technology). Focus point ‘Bouw’ (Built Environment), where Wim Zeiler is theme leader Energy, and its role in the International Urban Physics Research Schools, where Bert Blocken is a main organizer.