smart façade - energy potential of adaptive façade systems

A specially developed simulation model is employed to ascertain the energetic potential of adaptive façade systems. The dynamic behavior of the physical properties of the adaptive façade system reacts to both internal and external changing conditions. The goal was the development of an adaptive façade, which helps provide maximum comfort for the building occupants with minimum energy consumption.

Short Description




Starting point / motivation

„smart façade" investigates the energetic potential and possible configuration of future-orientated smart adaptive façades. The study examines and develops the qualitative and quantitative potential of smart façades, building skins, which maximize energy performance by modifying their physical properties to adapt to changing external (weather) and internal (user behavior) conditions.

The research results provide a precise statement on the energetic potential of smart façades, which constantly adapt to changing external and internal conditions by manipulating variable parameters for thermal insulation (U-value), solar energy transmittance (g-value), light transmission (τ-value), thermal energy storage (c-value) and air tightness (n- value). A novel and innovative dynamic simulation model, which got specially developed for this project, provides meaningful insight into the potential and possibilities to evaluate the energy performance of intelligent façade-systems.

Contents and goals

Existing responsive façades are limited to one-dimensional approaches (e.g. automated shading systems or solar energy storage and use by special wall systems).

The work proposed here forms the scientific basis for the development of smart façade-designs by precisely determining the energy potential. It offers various assumptions as well as useful insight into successful strategies for the development of suitable components to develop smart façades and smart façade components.


Market-based simulation softwares follow a linear workflow. The software tool developed for this research project manipulates and bypasses this process and frameworks the specialty of it: intelligent selections of simulation parameters and optimization processes (loops) are prefixed to the simulation engine. This was enabled through the use of components of the graphic-algorithmic software Grasshopper which was interlinked to the simulation engine EnergyPlus by using the Honeybee-Plugin for Grasshopper.


The Grasshopper simulation-definition, a result of this research project, is defined as a simulation tool which takes into account the complexity of the simulation process for adaptive façades. The flexibility of this tool does not merely offer the possibility for the user to reduce the degree of complexity but it can also be developed further for future projects. It is possible to add more functions to the simulation tool by integrating additional components for alternative investigations.

The evaluation of the simulation results correspond to the initial expectations regarding the potential of energy reduction of adaptive façade systems. The effects on reducing energy consumption for office spaces are remarkable and energy demands for living or bed rooms could potentially be reduced even more.

Prospects / Suggestions for future research

The results of this research project, especially the above mentioned simulation-definition can be defined as a powerful tool for subsequent proof of concepts. This approach towards adaptive façade systems offers enormous potential for reducing energy consumption while maintaining optimal comfort in building spaces concurrently. This highly innovative approach certainly lays an important foundation for the development of the façade systems of the future.

Project Partners

Project management

Graz University of Technology, Institute for Buildings and Energy

Contact Address

Prof. Brian Cody, DI Sebastian Sautter
Rechbauerstrasse 12
A-8010 Graz
Tel.: +43 (316) 873 4751