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Research aims to optimize environmental impact of buildings

on Tuesday,April 07,2009 21:04

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Architects have long known that people are more comfortable and productive in buildings that use daylight as the primary source of illumination. Now, new research has been focusing on harnessing daylight to make environmental impact as well.

Researchers from the School of Architecture''s Daylighting and Energy Performance Laboratory at UNC Charlotte have been collaborating with local industries and governments to figure out how current building practices have impacted carbon footprint.

They also use two instruments to assess the impact of sky luminance and solar radiation. The Artificial Sky simulates the average overcast conditions of the Piedmont region, and a Fixed Sun Movable Earth Heliodon simulates actual solar penetration.

"Daylighting is directly related to the idea of carbon reduction," says graduate student Lindsay Frizzell who is working on a project to quantify energy efficiency.

"For every kilowatt hour of energy we save, we''re cutting approximately two and a half pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, "she adds.

Architecture professor Dale Brentrup, who has run the lab for the last 15 years, sums up the research by saying that while buildings can be retrofitted to be more energy efficient, the greatest energy savings come from designing new buildings in accordance with environmentally friendly practices.

He is also working with the university to develop guidelines for ensuring the efficiency of new buildings.
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