College of Architecture + The Arts

Florida International University
College of Architecture + The Arts

Modesto A. Maidique Campus
Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building
11200 SW 8th Street Miami, Florida 33199


Thomas Spiegelhalter in Steering Committee and Marilys Nepomechie as Group Consultant for Research on Sustainable Human-Building Ecosystems

The College of Architecture + The Arts’s Thomas Spiegelhalter (Associate Professor and Co-Director of the FIU Structural and Environmental Technologies Laboratory) is a member of the steering committee for RCN-SEES: Predictive Modeling Network for Sustainable Human-Building Ecosystems (SHBE). The committee behind the Research Coordination Network (RCN) focusing on Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) recently met at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in California. The RCN-SEES is funded by a $652,846.00 grant from the National Science Foundation. Other steering committe members are Prof. Yong Tao (UNT), Prof. Yimin Zhu (LSU), Khee Poh Lam (CMU), Richard Feiock (FSU), Mirsad Hadzikadic (UNCC),  Chien-fei Chen (UTK), Wei Yan (TAMU), Carol C. Menassa (UMICH), and Derrick D’Souza (UNT).

In addition to serving as a steering committee member, Professor Spiegelhalter is a member in two working groups for RCN-SEES, Group I: Physical Systems – in which College of Architecture + The Arts Professor Marilys Nepomechie is a constultant – and Group V: Model integration and Validation. These two groups, along with the other four, are emphasizing separate themes as theoretical foci of Sustainable Human-Building Ecosystems. The other working groups are covering Human Behaviors, Social/Policy Impacts, Life Cycle/Economics, and Sustainability Education.

Thus far, the RCN-SEES has hosted two workshops on two themes. A workshop on Physical Systems took place at the University of Texas in March 2014, and another on Human Behaviors took place at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in May 2014. The workshops consisted of presentations to stimulate discussion, breakout groups, and roundtable discussions to summarize action items. Some industrial and international entities that have participated in these workshops are InstitutoTecnológicode Saltillo (Mexico), TexEnergy, Schneider Electric, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and HKS, Inc.

A Sustainable Human-Building Ecosystem involves

  • differential needs and patterns of behavior for human occupants in various types of buildings with multiple, temporally, and environmentally demographic, cultural, and social preferences;
  • social-economic systems to sustain, or be adapted by, the human needs and patterns of behavior;
  • building envelopes to provide a shelter for people from weather;
  • active engineering systems and passive features providing thermal and lighting comfort;
  • quality air, fresh water, and their supply systems for human needs, and
  • micro-climate conditions such as urban centers, which may significantly vary from macro scale climate data and significantly correlate to the efficient energy consumption by human in buildings

The objective of this RCN-SEES, in which Professor Spiegelhalter is involved, is to develop a collaborative research platform centered on overcoming bottlenecks in engineering, software, and social-economic sciences that impede wider application of sustainable building technology. The network activities are focusing on defining an innovative, new interdisciplinary area, “Sustainable Human-Building Ecosystem (SHBE),” that integrates human behavioral science, social and economic sciences in tandem with sciences of building design, engineering, and metrology for data validation of building energy consumption and occupant comforts. The developed collaboration strategies and standardized data platform will lead to significant reductions of the uncertainty in predicting human adaptation to energy efficiency and sustainability of building ecosystems, which will also address fundamental questions such as: “What are the benefits of sustainable building investment to people at a personal, business, or urban planning level?” (Source: RCN-SEES : Predictive Modeling Network for Sustainable Human-Building Ecosystems (SHBE))

The activities of the SHBE-RCN include: collectively developing a consensus-based mechanism for a cyber-enabled, data-networked research platform that allows sharing of the connectivity methods from different models of building ecosystem elements; creating the networking mechanism to recruit additional participants or update the working groups; developing the new research directions for identified subareas; evaluating the success of the SHBE network; and developing an innovative learning program for graduate students of diverse backgrounds. (Source: RCN-SEES : Predictive Modeling Network for Sustainable Human-Building Ecosystems (SHBE))

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