NSF AWARD: Adaptive Building Skin to Enhance Interior of Buildings

Operating buildings, for either professional or residential use, accounts for as much as 41% of the energy consumption in the United States of America. Adaptive building skins are active filters between the interior environment and outside weather conditions. These skins are able to respond to changing outdoor weather conditions and indoor operational needs, potentially reducing the energy demand of a building by as much as 51%. However, current adaptive building skins rely on mechanical hinges and actuation devices of high construction complexity and life cycle cost. These attributes are obstacles to their broader adoption. Therefore, this award supports the fundamental research underlying the development of lighter, more durable, and, mechanically, less complex adaptive skins. More energy efficient buildings will lead to decreased greenhouse gas emissions, less US dependency on fossil fuels, and improved well-being of individuals in society. For this project, a team spanning the disciplines of civil and mechanical engineering, material science and botany is assembled. This project will have a broad educational impact through the curating of an exhibition at a national museum and providing research experiences at high school, undergraduate and graduate levels and outreach to the K-12 community.