My research and teaching activities are in the area of sustainable building design and building technology, with a special focus on the study of adaptive building enclosure systems. One of the goals of this research is to develop smart materials that can alter their thermal properties in response to changing outdoor conditions, in order to conserve energy and optimize building thermal comfort. This research entails the use of energy modeling tools, experimental investigations including synthesis of new materials, and the study of practical applications. The broader perspective of this work is to realize sustainable construction systems that minimize material consumption and optimize energy use while reducing costs. In this work we are also working with undergraduate students on projects that deal with the practical challenges of sustainable building design. Examples of such projects include participation in the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competitions, which focuses on the design of zero-energy buildings. Such projects are designed to offer opportunities to students that are interested in expanding their knowledge of environmental design, energy modeling tools, new materials, construction detailing, and the practical planning and construction of building projects.
Steven Van Dessel, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and his students were highlighted in The Telegram & Gazette (scroll down to last graph) for designing the new WWl memorial at Green Hill Park, which was unveiled yesterday.
Forbes reported online about research led by Shichao Liu to study the optimal indoor conditions for learning. Liu, Jacob Whitehill and Steven Van Dessel received $299,991 develop technologies that detect and boost student engagement in lessons by controlling classroom temperature, ventilation, and lighting.