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Architectural Engineering Research Activities

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Architectural Engineering brings together Mechanical, Electrical, Illumination and Structural Engineering and Construction Management in a curriculum and research program focused on the design, construction and operation of buildings.

Buildings affect the environment in two distinct and important ways:

  • Buildings define the indoor environment in which as much as 90 percent of the average person's life is spent. Indoor air quality, lighting and acoustics all contribute to the health and sense of comfort--or lack of it--of building occupants. As many as 30 percent of buildings are subject to "sick building syndrome" complaints.
  • Building construction and operation have a major impact on the global environment through the use of raw materials and non-renewable energy. Energy consumption for building operation and the use of chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants in air-conditioning equipment have the potential to degrade air quality and contribute to global warming and stratospheric ozone depletion.

Environmental and energy research in the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering addresses both indoor air quality and energy efficiency --both the indoor and global impacts of buildings. Past and ongoing research includes:

  • Computational fluid dynamic modeling of room air distribution to remove contaminants
  • Control of variable-air-volume systems to meet ASHRAE Standard 62 while minimizing energy consumption
  • Optimization of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation systems for disinfection of indoor air
  • Filtration of airborne microorganisms
  • Lighting design that maintains visual and non-visual requirements while minimizing negative environmental impacts
  • Modeling of energy savings resulting from basement and slab foundation insulation
  • Design of stratified thermal storage tanks to minimize energy losses
  • Integration of solar energy in industrialized housing through the development and contracting strategies of solar photovoltaic systems
  • Development of novel light sources that maximize visual benefits while minimizing energy use