A/S Research Group develops a thermally active building system for a vaulted floor element that allows to harness energy from low temperature sources while at the same time ensuring thermal comfort of the occupants.

The A/S Research Group joined forces with the Block Research Group (both ETH) to work on the NEST HiLo project, currently under construction on the EMPA campus in Dübendorf. Among other technological innovations, A/S has developed a thermal space conditioning system based on a low temperature renewable energy source integrated into a lightweight floor structure (BRG). Hydronic pipework is combined with a concrete shell to form a thermally active building system (TABS) on the underside of the ceiling. It is covered with insulation thus heat radiates from the ceiling into the space below. The lightweight structural TABS shows solely responsible for the thermal comfort of occupants, with no additional floor heating/cooling included in the rooms.

In order to address the issues resulting from a complex geometry and low temperature energy sources such as thermal loss management and system control, A/S has employed a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation framework. The team has set up a lightweight structural TABS systems model that explains how to deal with the geometrical and structural constraints. Energy analyses on both building and district scales have been conducted. In a second step, the systems model has been combined with a comfort model of the associated conditioned room.

The project targets energy performance, occupant thermal comfort, and the challenges that derive from marrying geometrically complex, lightweight structures with properties of thermal activation.

TABS: hydronic pipework integrated into the concrete shell of the funicular floor, © A/S Research Group.

The ESC member involved in this project is Prof. Arno Schlüter, head of the Chair for Architecture and Building Systems. The Chair of Architecture and Building Systems (A/S) researches on active and passive systems for the energy supply and climate control of buildings.

Further Details

See the project website and the related publication

Project Partners:

A/S Research Group – Chair of Architecture and Building Systems
Block Research Group – Chair of Chair of Architecture and Structures
(both Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich)