Our requirements for buildings have significantly increased in these decades: on one hand comfort and indoor air quality ? especially at the workplace - are very important; It is proven that well-being and productivity of employees strongly depend on those. On the other hand, high energy-efficiency and savings on fossil fuels are now taken for granted. In a few years, all new buildings will be virtually planned in net-zero-energy quality according to the EU Directive 2010/31/EU of May 19, 2010 on the energy performance of buildings. I.e. buildings will be only allowed to consume as much energy as they can generate on-site. These buildings are not dreams of the future or even impossible to build. They are already being built today, with good success. But that's not "state of the art", yet. Why?
One important factor is the economics. Our demands for comfort and energy efficiency have increased, but the cost of planning and construction must remain low. The other factor is knowledge, if we have to struggle with the laws of physics: heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting by natural means is indeed elegant but more difficult to achieve than with conventional technical means, because the driving forces at our disposal by using energy-neutral alternatives are usually very small. If a concept is not optimally designed, planned and implemented, it will not work satisfactorily or even not at all. Think of night cooling by natural ventilation, free room cooling without refrigeration unit, or room lighting exclusively by daylighting, etc.
How can a building be designed so that its functions are carried out properly, that thermal and visual indoor climate are optimal and that its total costs remain affordable? The potential is hidden in the early assessment of architectural and energy scenarios ? i.e. at the beginning of the planning process ? when there are still ?degrees of freedom? for new ideas and designs. This early assessment should be carried out collectively between architects, planners and building owners / users, based on a model that can correctly map the building in its function and that can deliver accurate physical and economic results, rather than just rough estimates.
This planning approach is referred to as Integrated Design Process and the Klima-engineer acts as the moderator in the planning team. As an independent consultant he analyses concepts and scenarios by using thermal-dynamic simulations; thus valorizing the architectural design and increasing the planning security of the technical building services.