Briefs: Purdue University

Purdue University will create a USD 23.5 million Center for High Performance Buildings to design systems for future structures that are more environmentally and user friendly, energy efficient, and safe. The project is funded by the US Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and private donors. In the USA, buildings are responsible for roughly 40% of energy use, 71% of electricity consumption and 38% of CO2 emissions. Americans typically spend more than 90% of their time indoors, while 20 to 30% of occupants have health problems related to indoor environments, according to a project report prepared by Purdue and NIST. The economic impact related to health and lost productivity caused by poor indoor environments is estimated to be about USD 200 billion per year in the US. A special feature of the new facility will be a "living laboratory," a working office wing designed with replaceable modular elements related to communications, electronic controls and equipment; moveable walls, doors and windows; a reconfigurable air distribution and lighting system; and instrumentation to monitor systems and occupants. A "perception-based engineering" lab in the new building will be able to simulate a wide span of building environments. Lighting, acoustic environment, air quality, temperature, humidity, airflow and vibration will be controlled independently.