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The University of Tennessee
College of Architecture and Design

Project Structure and Sub Projects

The UT Zero Energy House project will generate a wide range of sub research and development projects in the areas of architecture, materials science and engineering and will be connected to social science, economics, outreach and other constituencies and stakeholders. Currently a mock version of the house is being developed by students in a construction class called the Prototype 01.

Sub project for the UT Zero Energy House:

Evolutionary optimization using genetic algorithms
New membrane materials and structural systems
Manufacturing and construction methods
Adaptable structures, components and building envelope

Materials and Construction:
Digital architecture and integration of engineering and construction technology
Rapid prototyping and modeling in architecture
New building material properties: Phase Change Materials (PCM), Coatings etc.

Performance based design
Artificial intelligence, electronic imagination, Digital simulation
Digital architecture and environmental and Sustainability studies
Robotics in construction practices
Maintenance techniques for buildings and components and materials
Energetic aspects, climate impact, environmental aspects in architecture
Adaptivity of architecture regarding energetic aspects, climate impact
Environmental aspect

Our Mission: Sustainability and energy efficiency
Sustainability means, to satisfy today’s demands of mankind to choose their own way of living - without endangering the same rights for the generations to come.

In our daily lives, we use enormous amounts of energy. The world consumes about 450 quadrillion (quads) British thermal units (Btu) of energy each year. About 86% of that use comes from burning fossil fuels—petroleum, coal, and natural gas. The United States consumes about 100 quads of energy per year, which is based on about 85% fossil fuel use. The residential building sector accounts for about 21% of the U.S. consumption total.

In the design of future residential and commercial architecture, energy efficiency (along with social, cultural, demographic and economic issues) has to be considered as a more and more decisive factor. Threatening climate changes and the recognition that our fossil energy sources are finite has caused global calls to lower CO²-emissions. They are the starting point for a rethinking on several levels. The sun and the energy it emits thereby play a central role.  Especially in the energy supply of buildings, solar power can be used in many ways. With our Research focus on developing the UT Zero Energy House we want to showcase these opportunities and ways of using solar power.

Since 1995 the global production of photovoltaics has increased 35% annually. For the current year 2007, the economic growth of the solar industry branch is expected to be 17% - in connection with the generation of new jobs. Thus the job market around the use of solar power is the fastest growing among the renewable energies and in general.

At the same time, energy costs are exploding because of an ever increasing demand. In contrast to this, prices for solar power will decrease in the future, since this resource, radiation on the earth, is infinitely available. It doesn’t cost anything, and it is several 1000 times more available than the current global demand. The demand of PV cells has risen drastically; their performance is increasing, while the prices significantly decrease.

Our goal is to develop new materials for the building envelope incorporating not only the solar PV cells but also energy storage, active thermal insulation, self-cleaning, and phototrophic behavior into one material compound as a membrane. Our research focuses on the integration of material, energy and information flow in the building envelope.

Our focus lies on advancing innovative technologies and further lowering costs. Among the goals of energy research are the enhancement of efficiency and production, the increased share of renewable energies in the overall energy use and the decrease of greenhouse gas emissions. For the area of energy-optimized building that means measures to reduce the energy demand of houses.

Contact Us

UT Zero
Art + Architecture Building
1715 Volunteer Boulevard,
Room 457
Knoxville, TN 37996
Edgar Stach
Phone: (865) 974-5211
Fax: (865) 974-0656