Pilot Case 1: Aachen (GE)

RWTH Aachen University will contribute in the PLUG-N-HARVEST project with its two scientific research groups “Holistic Building Design and Management” and “HVAC systems” of the Institute for Energy Efficient Buildings and Indoor Climate as well as the Institute for Sustainable Metal Building Envelopes. The teams will be responsible for the modular, PLUG-N-PLAY adaptable dynamic building envelope (ADBE) concept development. Within this task, the different constructional requirements of different building types, the requirements of the composition and sizing of system engineering as well as targets regarding circular economy and economic factors will be aligned. In addition, interfaces to the energy management will be defined.

The pre-pilot is created in order to test the structural and energetic building behaviour. Additionally, the research and industrial partners will make joint decisions on the prototype-design regarding Key Performance Indicators in the fields of economic and ecological performance.
The research tasks are:

  • a) Selection of materials and joining technology of the prototype elements
  • b) Early experiences gathered on the manufacturability and properties
  • c) Performing tests on the elements regarding their building physics performance
  • d) Assessment of end product usability: e.g. fastening methods, possible risks, transportation etc.

After the design phase, the Institute for Energy Efficient Buildings and Indoor Climate will implement the pre-pilots and perform the validation and optimization of the facade system. Two different facade test benches are available for laboratory tests at RWTH Aachen University Campus. Experimental Hall A contains four equivalent rooms – two rooms next to each other and two above them – with individual facade systems (see the below picture).

The comparison rooms are well insulated to the hall and the ground that almost no energy loss can be assumed. A mullion-transom construction with different ventilation systems, which are similar to the components of the ADBE facade, is currently installed as an external facade. This facade test bench is used in particular to validate the control algorithms for the later planned technical systems and to examine effects of different interior climate situations. Furthermore, the energy loss to the adjacent rooms at a specific temperature difference and U-value of the separating component can be measured.

In Experimental Hall B (completion spring 2018) the second test stand is located. The outer wall has an opening, which is provided with a gate and by that offers the possibility to reproduce an outer wall construction with any material, e.g. masonry. The available size of the opening dimension corresponds also to two adjacent and superimposed rooms, like the situation in Experimental Hall A (see the below picture).

In the course of the experimental setup, an existing wall is reproduced here. The various possibilities for fastening the ADBE are analysed and optimised at this point. During the prototype installation, corresponding sensors are installed in the entire construction, which allow a monitoring of the temperatures and thus an analysis of thermal bridges. The acquired measurement data is also used to validate the dynamic models, so that further tests of variants can be carried out purely simulative. The Institute for Sustainable Metal Building Envelopes will support the Institute for Energy Efficient Buildings and Indoor Climate in developing and testing the new facade system with its large experience in structural design and testing of construction components.

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