The Peer review has evaluated this group as Average
Building Envelope design is an application area which draws from all areas of building engineering, especially building science and indoor climate control. It focuses on the analysis and design of building envelopes, including durability, heat and moisture transfer and interaction with the indoor environment. If building engineering can be defined as an organised system of methods and tools for the processes of design, production and management of building organisms, Building Envelope Engineering can be seen as dealing with the more significant aspects of this field. The building envelope plays a fundamental role in controlling confined environments, from a thermal, acoustic, visual and air quality point of view, as well as in the definition of energy and environmental costs. It represents the part of a building most exposed to agents of degradation and, as such, is the principal focus of projects detailing the duration and programme of any maintenance interventions. It plays a critical role in determining the safety of a building and the degree of protection offered the people within it. It represents the principal site of innovation with respect to forms and aesthetics, technology, modes of interaction with installation and structural sub-systems, advanced material technology applications, cases of conservation of historical buildings and in the technologies for their conducting. BE Group conducts both research and support service activities for projects and the production of building envelopes, and – in this way – for architecture and the city itself; this should be seen less as a merging of social and economic factors, and more as a highly anthropised physical environmental state. In particular, the Research Unit is involved in investigating problems linked to the control (more specifically, forecasting instruments and their practical experimentation) of building envelope quality, its design and production: in its relationship with the eternal environment, with the aim of controlling interactions between the microclimate and building; in its relationship with the confined environment, with the aim of controlling the conditions of comfort and optimising energy and environmental costs in general; over time, in its relationship with both natural and pathological phenomena of deterioration that may affect it. The specific topics of research are as follows: 1 Building envelopes and the external environment The “sustainability” of an urban building needs to be evaluated not only in terms of the energy and macro-environmental costs of its production and management, but also in terms of the possibility of controlling or contributing to the control of its internal and external conditions. The Research Unit operates on a "strategic” level, working in collaboration with Ibimet, the CNR Istituto di Biometeorologia, to devise instruments of urban environmental design on an “operational” level, to support the design of new 41 constructions or building recuperations, to evaluate microclimate alterations, and to modify the types and technologies used. To back up these and other topics being studied by the group, this research line makes use of METEOLAB, which operates as a weather station in support of various University activities, such as the current experimentations on the evaluation and exploitation of light energy (Department of Electronics). 1.1 Optic-energy performances of surfaces A topic closely linked to the interaction between a building and its microclimate, is that of the characterisation of building surfaces. To this end the BE Group, in collaboration with Ibimet, has created – and is currently perfecting – an experimental apparatus and relative procedures for the estimation of the total reflection (albedo) and spectral coefficient of the surfaces of various materials. 2 Building envelopes and confined environments The topics developed by the group deal with building technology and physics from a strictly project-based point of view: a project on building envelopes in general that, by way of their interaction with installation and utility systems, contribute to defining the confined environment as well as to the control of energy needs for winter and summer air conditioning. The capacity to forecast confined environmental conditions and the energy needs of air conditioning/heating as well as their effect on architectural and building decisions, is one of the principal training objectives of the degree course in Building Engineering and one of the principal skills called for in designers, building companies and public administration. To this end, the Research Unit manages ESL, Energy Simulation Laboratory, which supports the teaching, research and consultancy activities carried out by the group. In particular, ESL provides the instrumental support for the study of highly efficient components and spontaneous air-conditioning building systems. 3 Product re-engineering This topic covers those activities aimed at the setting-up and qualification of building technologies through the definition of normative tools in the UNI arena (practice codes for the design, production and maintenance of rainproofing systems and covers, for instance), the relative pre-normative research that BE Group conducts in support of associations of producers and industrial categories, and the consultancy activity through which the Unit draws its practical competence fundamental to its establishment. A portion of these activities are linked to the teaching Laboratory of Building Pathology, within which risk analyses of a technical-constructive nature are practised and where work is conducted on the systematic acquisition and diffusion of skills derived from analyses of repair jobs. 4 Revision and control of projects The Research Unit has always been involved in the perfecting of methods and operational instruments for the qualification and validation of projects, and in training and consulting programmes linked to the above activity, both in the context of public works and in the optimisation of specific project solutions.
Enrico De Angelis