As an extension of the existing Ray W. Herrick Laboratories, the Center for High Performance Buildings expands Purdue’s evolving multidisciplinary studies that comprise over 50 years of research with an emphasis on the transfer of technology concepts to industry use. A significant portion of this research focuses on solving problems related to the properties of built environments. Facilities within the new center are designed for the study of complex societal issues such as rising energy consumption and environmental pollution, climate change, public health, comfort and security, and issues associated with an aging population.
In the United States, buildings are responsible for roughly 40 percent of energy use, 71 percent of electricity use, and 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Additionally, a typical American will spend over 90 percent of their time indoors, with up to a third of occupants experiencing health problems due to built environments. A major focus of the center is the development of an understanding of relationships between indoor environments and human health — these studies are aided by a “living laboratory” office wing. This environment is designed with replaceable modular elements related to communications, electronic controls, and equipment; movable walls, doors, and windows; a reconfigurable air distribution and lighting system; and instrumentation to monitor systems and occupants, allowing for testing and validation of new building systems and concepts.
The center also houses a “perception-based engineering” lab, which simulates various building environments such as lighting, acoustics, air quality, temperature, humidity, air flow, and vibration. Researchers are able to control and evaluate each element independently, leading to improvements in the understanding of health and productivity.
In addition, the facility features several other specialty labs for thermal systems, vibrations, electromechanical systems, transportation and advanced engines, and acoustics chambers.
The center is designed to LEED-NC Silver classification standards, while also maintaining the ability to research technologies beyond LEED criteria to support advancement of green building concepts for the future.