Research In Engineering Part 2: The Thermal Façade Lab

Abraham Peek Assistant Editor of Social Sciences

The Thermal Façade Labs at the University of Texas at Austin are two outdoor facilities that allow UT professors, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers to conduct groundbreaking research on facades, window systems, and the thermal dynamics of buildings.

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Although the exterior looks plain, the facilities inside are state of the art. They contain sensors, innovative circulation systems, and, if you come at the right time, a laser.

Both units have a south-facing glass wall – because of the presence of the sun from this angle, a south-facing glass wall is a nightmare for air conditioning costs in the southern United States. In the Thermal Façade Lab, however, it allows the operators to run experiments on ventilation systems, facades, and materials in a “worst case” scenario.

To help the operators gain insight as to how loads are moving through the units, several sensors record vital data like power usage, temperature change, and water flow. The walls use materials offering twice the insulative ability of a well-done to create controlled environments free of outside influences. The lab’s setup emulates doing experiments in the average office building.F

Funded by ASHRAE and run by Dr. Atila Novoselac, the Thermal Façade Lab allows students and faculty of the university to run experiments on a variety of of engineering and architecture related matters. The lab produces breakthroughs in the understanding of thermal loads and their implementation in architectural and engineering systems.

More information on the lab and its projects can be found on their website.

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