For Immediate Release

Newswise — This spring, the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) at UC Berkeley will celebrate two decades of research that’s yielded a broad and valuable body of knowledge, innovation, publications, and industry impacts. CBE, which was formed under the auspices of the National Science Foundation Industry/University Research Program, created the initial roadmap for research and has continued to shape the building industry today with work that’s been included in over 350 reports and peer-reviewed papers.

Since its launch in 1997, CBE’s membership, research team, and reach have all grown tremendously: The center now has close to 40 industry members who commit time and resources to support and guide research. (Of the founding members, ARUP and the U.S. General Services Administration, are still with CBE and many partners have been engaged for ten years or more.) These partners represent many perspectives from across the spectrum of the commercial building sector and bring significant expertise and insight on the center’s work as advisors, research team members and co-authors.

CBE’s research team now consists of nearly a dozen full-time faculty and staff, supported by a number of post-doctoral scholars, graduate students, and visiting scholars from around the world who work with CBE with the support of their universities. Their network of collaborators includes people from universities and research centers, industry companies and non-profit organizations, including several who have teamed with CBE to win multimillion-dollar-award projects.

Some of CBE’s important accomplishments over the past two decades include a project on the performance of underfloor air distribution (UFAD) plenums, which grew to a decade-long UFAD research program that created design tools and guidance for the then-nascent technology and concluded with an ASHRAE Design Guide on UFAD Systems. The research approach developed for UFAD — combining laboratory, simulation and field study methods — is an approach CBE is now using on their four-year study on Optimizing Radiant Systems.

CBE’s proposal at that inaugural meeting for using web-based systems to evaluate building performance led to CBE’s Occupant Survey, which has been used in over 1,000 buildings, resulted in numerous findings and papers, provided improved understanding of key concerns of occupants, and determined new areas on which the industry needs to focus. Their early work on “task-ambient” conditioning systems led to a range of research and innovations dubbed Personal Control Systems, which led to the development of many thermal comfort research topics, including the development of the Advanced Thermal Comfort Model. CBE is now a globally recognized leader in thermal comfort research.

“My goal is to influence the world, to influence the industry. Our graduates are all in significant industry positions and making a difference. It’s been great to see CBE partners out in the forefront, coming up with projects that employ innovative approaches and really push the limits,” explained Director of CBE Edward Arens. “They are also coming up with the most liveable buildings, as our surveys quantify. I think some of it has been made possible by CBE pushing these ideas relentlessly, and providing the scientific evidence that these things are possible.”