Sustainicum Collection

Consus The aim of the project is to establish a regional science-society network for sustainability innovations in Albania and Kosovo in order to strengthen the connection and collaboration of institutions in the field of higher education, research and practice.

Resource facts

  • Independent of the number of students
  • Up to 3 lecture units
  • English, German

Resource Description

Building Optimization - Effective Energy (GO-1)(Resource ID: 211)

This teaching module is part of a module series on “building optimization” and is suitable for courses addressing the issue of sustainability, in particular energy efficiency and climate protection, and wish to examine the building sector. The Building Optimization series of modules is intended to convey the essential relationships of energy-efficient construction. Students can explore the optimization potentials of energy efficiency on their own using the GO tool. The purpose of this module is to understand how to optimize heating and cooling demands through an energy efficient building envelope. The module is designed for a teaching unit of about an hour in length (can optionally be shortened to a half hour teaching unit), and can be implemented regardless of the number of participants.

Content of Module

  • Information and recommendations for class instructors 
  • Teaching materials and script: PowerPoint presentation (PPP) with instructions
  • Teacher’s manual:  PPP with notes (questions, answers, interpretation) and supplemented with results sheets for class instructors
  • GO tool based on MS Excel

The GO Tool is a tool for rating the energy efficiency of buildings. It can be used without special knowledge of building technology.

This module provides an understanding of the influence of density and windows on energy efficiency (heating and cooling demand). We will go over the influence of building geometry (building size, footprint, number of stories, construction method), as well as of windows (percentage of area, direction, shading, and window quality).

Suggested Teaching Order

Time for Step 1 - 4: about 10 - 15 minutes.

  1. Explanation of goal and sequence of material (the first PPP transparencies)
  2. Ask the students what they associate with the term “effective energy” and if they are familiar with any examples (including ones not from the building sector).
  3. Presentation of how effective energy and thermal balance are displayed in the Go Tool
  4. Ask students if they know any examples of heating loss or gain (and what factors influence this).

Time for Step 5: about 20 - 25 minutes (this step can optionally be skipped)

  1. Example of density (ratio of surface to volume) with an A4 sheet of graph paper and data from the PPP. Each student should process the data on their own. Questions, answers, interpretations, and suggestions for discussion topics can be found in the PPP notes. Results displayed in documents for class instructors. 

Time for Steps 6 - 9: about 20 - 30 minutes.

  1. Ask the students to open the GO tool and to form small working groups as desired.
  2. GO Tool example of density. Information and tasks according to PPP.  Results displayed in documents for class instructors.
  3. GO Tool example of windows and shades. Information and tasks according to PPP.  Results displayed in documents for class instructors.
  4. Interpretation of the results, suggested discussion topics (questions to students).

Prerequisites for Implementation  

  • Graph paper: 1 A4 sheet per student
  • MS Excel: ideally two students per computer   

The prerequisite for this teaching module is having completed the GO-0 “Fundamentals” module, which includes information on how to use the GO Tool. This teaching module provides the basis for understanding the modules on Building Optimization, GO-2 and GO-3, as well as the modules by Alexander Passer (Technical University of Graz) and Heimo Staller (AEE INTEC).

Learning Outcomes
The assessment tool is intended to convey the essential relationships of energy-efficient construction. Working independently, students gain an understanding of the how different building shapes and window arrangements affect energy efficiency. After being briefed on effective energy and thermal balance, students have gained insight on the most significant influencing variables and potentials for optimizations. This should provide an understanding of the influences of building geometry, windows, and the thermal insulation of the building envelope on overall energy efficiency. Intended learning outcomes include:
1. Effects of building volume
2. Effects of footprint design
3. Effects of number of stories
4. Effects of window size
5. Effects of window quality
6. Effects of environmental shading
7. Effects of mobile shading
Relevance for Sustainability
The building sector exerts a strong influence on key areas of sustainable development: consumption of non-renewable resources, climate change, waste disposal, life cycle costs, job creation, indoor air quality (health), and user comfort. Their long service life means buildings have a direct impact on future generations. Many successfully tested strategies are available for increasing the sustainability performance of buildings. The building sector offers the greatest potential for optimization with regard to climate protection and energy efficiency (see publications by the IPCC and IEA). LCA (life cycle assessments) of buildings show that, in most cases, the performance of user energy is the dominant factor of environmental impact (see for example the 2008 Michlmair thesis, TU Graz). For this reason, the energy efficiency of buildings is the most important starting point for improvements in ecological performance. Building shape and window design are fundamental aspects that must be determined in the early planning phases and that significantly influence the ecological performance of a building.
Related Teaching Resources
Preparation Efforts
Sources and Links

Markus Gratzl-Michlmair
Gratzl Engineering, Engineering Office for Building Physics

Concept and Supplementary Materials:
Roman Smutny

The building optimization tool is based on the OIB-training tool for non-residential buildings (see: www.oib.or.at) created by Christian Pöhn, MA39, and thus is based on the calculation rules of the energy certificate updated January 2010 (incl. ventilation according to ÖNORM H 5057, cooling according to ÖNORM H 5058, and lighting according to ÖNORM H 5059).

The OIB tool was adapted for use in architecture competitions within the IEAAC (Integration of Energy-related Aspects in Architecture Competitions) project by F&E and has been successfully implemented many times. The project was developed by IFZ Graz (architect Heimo Staller, project director), TU Graz, and BOKU Vienna, sponsored by FFG and Klima- und Energiefonds and the results are available online free of charge: www.ifz.tugraz.at/Projekte/Energie-und-Klima/EZ-IEAA

A series of enhancements and simplifications were necessary to make it usable as a simplified teaching tool for residential buildings as part of the SUSTANICUM program.  These involved the following areas:

  • Active solar energy use, detailed lighting plans, shade and shadow illustration
  • Ventilation system input

The conversion factors for primary energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions come from the OIB Guideline 6 (October 2011 issue).  The PV of income is credited with the Austrian electricity mix. The conversion factors of the comparison values for travel are from the database ECOINVENT, V.2.

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Roman Smutny
Markus Gratzl-Michlmair


Roman Smutny
This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna


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Teaching Tools & Methods

  • Computer program
  • Simulation program
  • Written material
  • Simulation