The Thermal Lab is the University of Texas at Austin's new experimental laboratory for conducting research on innovative façade design, glazing, shading, window treatments, and other energy-efficient building technologies. It is located on the south side of the West Mall Building within the UT School of Architecture complex.
Building energy demands are closely related to façade design, and with innovative combinations of technology and design, buildings can actually become energy-positive, generating more energy than they consume. Developing these sustainable design concepts will have a tremendous impact on reducing the use of fossil fuels and the subsequent emission of greenhouse gases.
Architecture is about more than just structural support and comfort; it is also about aspects such as scale, proportion, material, texture, and color. The most "efficient" building, in terms of energy use, might be the one with no openings, however, without any daylight or views outside, most users would consider such a building as far from "optimal." Although transparent elements of the building envelope are primary conduits for thermal exchange, the envelope as a whole, provides opportunity enhance the relationship between building occupants and nature through views, air, and light.
The Thermal Lab was designed to conduct performance experiments on various materials and designs in an effort to test the efficiency of many of the modern technologies that can contribute to energy-producing systems for the building envelope. For a detailed student report on the Thermal Lab and examples of research that may be conducted there, see the following reports:
Students and faculty interested in using the Thermal Lab to conduct research can download the Usage Protocol Guidelines
Please refer to our new website located at the University of Texas School of Architecture main site.