Energy as a Kind of Architectural Language: Toward Design Procedures for Building Energy Retrofit

By Antonella Mazzeo, Susan Ubbelohde and Roberto Lollini. Rosario Giuffrè (ed.)

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The European Directive 2002/91/EC requires practitioners to provide buildings with design solutions that comply with minimum energy performance requirements, while safeguarding thermal comfort. As alternative sets of building components and systems are countless, the difficult task for practitioners is to find the most appropriate solutions that satisfy both energy efficiency and comfort requirements. Moreover, the Italian decree laws implementing the European directive, 192/2005 and 311/2006 (that updates the former), establish restrictions on energy demands, without going more in depth into the integration of comfort and design as well as certification processes. Good efficiency does not imply good comfort and bad comfort decreases efficiency.
The argument that this paper puts forward is that both energy efficiency and comfort should be folded in the whole building design and certification processes. This assumption has to be consolidated in a methodology that guides designers into practice, bridging the gap between codes and practice. The paper demonstrates that sometimes working on a collection of additional technology according to codes is not useful enough for the issue at hand. For instance, in Mediterranean buildings insulation is not constantly good for both efficiency and comfort over seasons. Therefore, a design methodology based on relationships between building components can be pursued as an alternative strategy to the current ones.
In conclusion, the paper presents the results of an energy analysis on three excellent buildings and on the alteration of their main design parameters, such as the geometric ones and energy control technology. This serves to understand how both energy performance and comfort change according to different configurations. The purpose of this paper is to find an energy related design methodology in a format that stimulates innovation and reinvention in design. The result is to prepare data for framing a methodology useful for providing practitioners with guidelines as the most appropriate solutions for both energy saving and comfort in Sicily are searched out.

Keywords: Energy Efficiency, Energy Responsive Building Design, Adaptability

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.57-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.282MB).

Antonella Mazzeo

PhD Candidate, DASTEC, Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, Università degli Studi Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, Reggio Calabria, Italy

Antonella Mazzeo is a PhD candidate in Architectural Technology. Her research has been focused on the relationship between energy efficiency, building technology and architectural languages. She was Visiting Scholar at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard, USA and Visiting Scholar at the College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley, USA. Author of books and of several national and international technical reports, she has been a speaker in conferences on the subjects she has been working on.

Prof. Rosario Giuffrè

Full Professor, DASTEC, Department of Technology, Università degli Studi Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, Reggio Calabria, Italy

Professor of Building Design and Architectural Technology, Università degli Studi Mediterranea, Reggio Calabria,Italy. Chancellor of Università degli Studi Mediterranea, Reggio Calabria, Italy. Dean of Università degli Studi Mediterranea, Reggio Calabria, Italy. Chairman of the Department of Architectural Technology, Faculty of Architecture, Università degli Studi Mediterranea, Reggio Calabria, Italy. Member of CNR (National Council of Research). Visiting Professor in many universities. Among them Stanford University, California USA. Member of Academy of Sciences, Mosca, Russia. Referee of CIVR (Comitato d’Indirizzo per la Valutazione della Ricerca) at MIUR. Member of numerous scientific committees and boards. Author of many books and technical reports published in national and international journals, he has been a speaker in conferences on the subject he has been working on.

Susan Ubbelohde

Associate Professor, College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley, Berkeley University, Berkeley, California, USA

Associate Professor of Architecture, College of Environmental Design, Berkeley, CA.

Roberto Lollini

CNR-ITC, Milan, Italy

Graduated as Civil Engineer at Politecnico of Milan in 1995. Currently he works as a researcher in the Building Physics Department of ITC-CNR. His activities mainly aim at assessing the energy and environmental performances and the physical/technical behaviour of the whole building and its components and systems. His main expertise is in modeling building energy performance, assessing IEQ of built environment, carrying out energy audit and Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE).He contributed at the development of Italian methods and tools with regard building energy performance assessment and certification (see and He is also member of national and international working groups dealing with energy and environment-related issues. Author of several publications presented on national and international technical reviews, he has been a speaker in congresses and seminars on the subject of the research works.


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