14.04.2010 News: Bau and the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance announce strategic cooperation


Bau and the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance have reached agreement on a strategic cooperation. This cooperation between the World´s Leading Trade Fair for Architecture, Materials, Systems and Germany´s foremost research institute for building has a long-term perspective.

 

The Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance will in future support Bau with its expertise and its network of contacts – and vice versa. Research at the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance focuses on sustainability and resource management, as well as the health aspects of building and on issues connected with product, system and process optimisation. Already, ahead of Bau, both partners will be appearing together at press conferences in Germany and abroad and cooperating in their marketing activities.

 

At Bau 2011 the cooperation will be evident in the form of a special exhibition on the subject of intelligent building. With this exhibition the Fraunhofer Alliance is making an important contribution to exploring the key themes at Bau, which are sustainable building and research and innovation in the building industry. In this special exhibition the sixteen Fraunhofer institutes gathered together in the Bau Alliance will be showcasing innovative solutions on the research areas of people and interiors, building adapted to climate and culture, and on high-performance materials and intelligent building control systems. They will cover the whole gamut of applications from materials to components, rooms, buildings and even concepts for entire settlement districts.

 

Dr Reinhard Pfeiffer, Managing Director of Messe München, sees the cooperation as an important part of the further development of Bau: "The motto of Bau is 'The Future of Building' – and that is precisely the area which is the centre of research within the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance. We are both working in the same direction, towards the same aim. In developing new technologies and materials, the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance cooperates closely with companies who are also exhibitors at Bau. The results of research are then put on show at Bau. Bau, the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance and the building industry – these are like a magic triangle passing the ball to each other in the Champions League."

 

"The growth of cities will have a key influence on development in the 21st century, because the race for an ecologically sustainable future is taking place above all in the urban centres," is how Professor Klaus Sedlbauer, Spokesman for the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance and Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP – Fraunhofer-Institut für Bauphysik), explains the potential for research and development in the field of building. "Together with the building industry we want to further expand Germany´s technological leadership in the area of building products and processes, in particular, too, with regard to the aspect of sustainability in planning, constructing and using buildings. Sustainability is the goal of our research work, intelligent building is the way to get there," said Professor Sedlbauer: "The cooperation between the industry´s leading world fair Bau and the leading research alliance for applied research in building is a logical consequence of this."

 

The Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance is a cooperation between sixteen research institutions in the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. It was founded on 28 May 2008. As an interdisciplinary organisation the Fraunhofer Alliance acts as an interface between industry, research and politics. It reflects all the main research areas in building and construction within the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. The portfolio of the Alliance is aimed at companies of all sizes in the industry, many of them exhibitors and visitors at BAU. In addition the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance sees its role as seeking out and promoting new and innovative themes in building research. The Alliance´s main office is located at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Holzkirchen, around 30 km south of Munich.

Further information on the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance: www.bau.fraunhofer.de

 

Interview with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus Sedlbauer, Chairman of the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance

 

"Climate change is the main driver of innovation"

 

The building industry is often perceived by the general public as rather slow-moving and conservative, little inclined to innovation. Is this a true picture, or a fallacy?

 

Certainly high technology and building are relatively recent bedfellows. The problem is that the product we are dealing with in the building sector is a very long-lasting one. A building will after all be around for 30, 50 or even 80 years. Nevertheless there are exciting areas in building research that are indeed very advanced. Like innovative materials, building control technology and automation. Rising energy costs, climate change and ever scarcer resources are forcing us to build much more intelligent buildings and also run them more efficiently. And here we inevitably touch on high-tech.

 

Who or what is driving innovation in the building sector?

 

Primarily the impetus is coming from outside. The biggest driver is climate change. If we are serious about reducing carbon emissions and want to do something about it, then the building sector can have a big influence. It is one of the key sectors, because it consumes an enormous proportion of all resources, in particular materials and energy. In terms of technological development, there are many different drivers. Architecture is one – with the trend towards ultramodern, sustainable buildings. It can also be research, for example with the 'energy-plus houses'. It can also be large building firms which encourage improvements in the operational management of building sites with their new models. However, here most of these are isolated initiatives. So far there has not been a great deal of interdisciplinary exchange.

 

Given that there is a lack of coordination and agreement, what do you see as the role of the FraunhoferBuilding Innovation Alliance in this context?

 

We have three goals. One is to gather together the competences and activities in building research, and drive innovations at the interfaces between them. The second is to tackle larger projects jointly. In Stuttgart, for example, we are currently busy setting up a large innovations cluster on the theme of sustainability. Thirdly we are working to anchor the whole area of building research more firmly into government thinking, and point out the enormous technical and economic potential that there is here. Society has to realise that the building industry plays a central role in coping with global issues such as climate change, dwindling resources and energy supply.

 

How does this cooperation between research on the one hand and industry on the other work? Is it a success, or are there areas in which it can be improved?

 

The cooperation has always worked well, even during the recent financial crisis. Half of the money we earn comes from commissions for industry. For example, the main job of our in-house centre in Duisburg is to bring R&D together with industry and in that way to drive innovations. They do this in various ways – through brainstorming, trying out ideas and demonstrating innovations that have been developed together with industry as practical system solutions, for example.

 

As regards your research activities – what are the main themes that the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance is currently working on?

 

There are four main areas. One is the theme of sustainability, i.e. planning, building, operating and dismantling buildings in such a way that their impact on the environment is minimised. Here ecological factors play a role, such as eco audits and building in a way that facilitates later recycling. Added to this are economic factors. 80 percent of the costs of a building occur during the utilisation phase – and that´s simply too much. We must also focus more strongly on the eco credentials of the products we use in construction. The second area is the question of why we build – for people. So we are obliged to build spaces that are healthy and comfortable. If office workers can work more effectively and productively, the company saves cost with no extra burden on the employees. The third area in building research is high-performance materials, multi-functional products and facade systems. What springs to mind here are renovation systems which improve the strength and performance of existing buildings with minimal intervention, and which also shorten considerably the length of time it takes for renovation. The fourth area is software development, i.e. being able to take the CAD sketch from an architect and simulate all the functionality in a building and develop the building model accordingly. Here we are on the threshold of a great leap forward.

 

Is the aim to generate real products based on this research?

 

User-oriented research with practical application conforms to the principles of research at the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. One example of this are acoustic absorbers. These have now expanded into a entire product family. The absorbers absorb sound and improve the audibility of speech within a room. Another example is research into smells: once you know which molecules lead to which smell, and where they come from, you can design a ventilation system to react to sensory events. The system would then shut down, for example, when a local farmer was muck-spreading on a nearby field. Our goal is always to take developments emerging from chemistry, physics, material science and microelectronics, transfer them into the hard technology of building and find application for them in real products.

 

How does the innovations capability of the German building and construction industry compare on an international scale?

 

It is very strong, but rather poor at communicating its strengths and achievements. The building industry should project itself more. Take the US, for example. They call their green building certification scheme LEED – from leadership – but we all know that America has so far not been renowned for advanced building research. The Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance is about gathering together and supporting the innovations capability that exists in German building research and industry.

 

At BAU 2011 the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance will be putting on a special display on the subject of intelligent building. What are your objectives with this presentation?

 

We want to showcase German engineering competence. Plans still have to be finalised, but I could imagine we might focus on three core themes: firstly, sustainability; secondly interiors and people and building adapted to climate and cultures; and thirdly, high-performance materials and intelligent building control systems. We want the visitors to be excited about the amazing range of themes being pursued in building research.

 

Let´s take a leap forward to the year 2050. How will we be living then? What will the building of the future look like?

 

We will be living in mini power stations, in other words in buildings that generate more energy than they consume. These 'energy-plus houses' will also provide energy to power our electric cars. As resources become ever more scarce, buildings will be fully recyclable, in simple steps. Sustainable building will no longer be a goal to work towards, it will have long since become the norm. In 2050 copper will no longer be coming from copper mines, but from old buildings. Also, buildings will be much more intelligent and they will support their users in many ways. They will be flexible and multifunctional and be able to adapt their systems in line with weather forecasts. We will no longer be heating entire buildings to 20°C, but instead creating the conditions we require on a much more local and temporary basis. For example a sensor in the shoe could signalise cold feet, which then prompts the heating under the table to switch on for a short time. In 2050 it will be all about optimising comfort for people, with minimum energy input and maximum intelligence.

 

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The Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance is a cooperation between 16 research institutions in the FraunhoferGesellschaft. It was founded on 28 May 2008. As an interdisciplinary organisation the Innovation Alliance acts as an interface between industry, research and politics. It reflects all the main research areas in building and construction within the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. The portfolio of the Alliance is aimed at companies of all sizes in the industry, many of them exhibitors and visitors at BAU. In addition the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance sees itself as a sensor for and initiator of new and innovative themes in building research. The Alliance´s main office is located at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Holzkirchen, around 30 km south of Munich.

 

 

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dipl.-Phys. Klaus Sedlbauer, born in 1965, holds the Chair in Building Physics at the University of Stuttgart, is the Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, and also a member of the Senate of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. In 2007 Klaus Sedlbauer was a co-founder of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB – Deutsche Gesellschaft für NachhaltigesBauen), of which he is a member of the ruling council. Professor Sedlbauer was also instrumental in the formation of the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance, of which he is Chairman. Since 2003 he has been a permanent member of the Indoor Air Hygiene Commission of the German Federal Environment Agency. Sedlbauer was appointed in 2008 to the committee of scientific experts of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development.

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