Center for Building Energy Research (CBER) affiliates at Iowa State University are looking to the past to develop modern sustainable building designs. An interdisciplinary research team led by CBER Director Ulrike Passe, Associate Professor of Architecture, recently visited Sanliurfa, Turkey, as part of a project to investigate the passive energy benefits of the traditional, conical domed houses found in the town of Harran. The homes’ shape, construction materials, and strategically placed ventilation holes on the walls and ceiling help them stay cool and comfortable in hot weather.
Passe and her team—which includes co-principal investigators Baskar Ganapathysubramanian, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Umesh Vaidya, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Krishna Rajan, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering—are modeling heat transfer and air movement within the Harran homes to understand what makes them effective. They will use knowledge gained from analyzing the natural dynamics of the domed houses to develop control strategies to make modern buildings more energy efficient. They will also seek properties for novel phase-change materials that can be incorporated into buildings to improve performance.
Passe hopes this research will result in new sustainable building designs for areas with climates similar to Harran’s, including parts of the southwestern United States.
Team members were interviewed by Turkish media about the project, which is funded by a National Science Foundation EFRI (Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation) EAGER grant (#1345831).