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Introducing Georg Reichard: How Lego Blocks Can Help Save Energy

bridges vol. 6, July 2005 / News from the Network 

by Jutta Kern

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Georg Reichard is enthusiastic as he explains the bottom line of his crossover work between construction science and architecture, which he conducts at Virginia Tech. "Currently, developers and architects have to pay a lot of money to a specialist to conduct energy efficiency simulations for new housing projects. However, these simulations are not mandatory like code compliance is and thus are only rarely conducted in the early planning stage. As a consequence, problems aren't being averted, and it costs a lot more to fix them later—if it is not too late at all, like it is sometimes the case for the overheating of buildings. And my work is dedicated to changing that!"

Reichard_Georg_captionReichard_Georg_captionHow is he going to do this? Inspired by his seven-year-old son's Lego toys, Reichard focuses his next project on user-friendly simulation software, which allows developers and architects to move single modules within a project from one place to another. The exciting thing about it is that when, say, the living room is moved from the first to the second floor and the kitchen is placed next to the garage, this tool will tell you exactly what you win or lose in terms of energy efficiency, ventilation, and noise levels - and ultimately, costs. "If you can visualize energy-efficiency, it is much easier to understand - for the developer and for the customer," Reichard points out. "The US society is much more open to pay for comfort and efficiency should be established as an aspect of comfort in order to improve the over-all performance of buildings. But in the long run it always comes down to energy - energy used for operation, for construction, or for fabrication of material."

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