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Products Put to Test in New R&D Center

Thursday, January 31, 2013

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About 40 advanced building technologies, including high-efficiency building-envelope components, are set to be tested and showcased at a new building technology epicenter in Boston, MA.

Nearing completion, the headquarters for the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) will serve as a “living laboratory” for research and demonstration, according to the research organization.


Fraunhofer's new headquarters in Boston, MA, will feature a plethora of sustainable building technologies that can be experienced through innovative applications.

Housed in a 100-year-old, 50,000 square-foot, 13-story brick warehouse in Boston’s Innovation district, the retrofit will play host to a range of technologies, including building-integrated solar photovoltaics, radiant flooring, high-efficiency roof membranes, windows, doors, insulation and others, according to Fraunhofer.

Studying the Products

CSE researchers plan to evaluate the reliability and effectiveness of the technologies incorporated into the building in order help developers “prove out their products with building-integrated and other applied research,” Fraunhofer said.

Thirty-seven building material manufacturers donated some $2.7 million in products to be utilized in the building. Among the donors are Dow Corning Corp., DuPont Co., Siemens, and Hunter Douglas Inc.

A complete list is available here.

Showcasing Innovation

The organization also plans to showcase these technologies in an exhibition and educational space open to the public, using innovative applications to call attention to energy saving and/or sustainable construction attributes.

“We are committed to making the building a venue where everyone—from seasoned architects and construction executives to students still deciding their future career paths—can visualize the performance and potential of the technologies incorporated into the building,” said Nolan Browne, managing director of Fraunhofer CSE.


In this photo, posted on Fraunhofer CSE's blog, members of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association inspect insulation material being prepped for installation in the building.

“Our goal is to present the information in innovative ways that engage visitors and create demand for these energy-saving systems and sustainable products in the market.”

A Look with Augmented Reality

Innovative indeed, one of the visualization tools utilized is “augmented reality,” which enables users of mobile devices and tablets to view a superimposed, realistic graphic of a system or component by pointing the device at a marker (similar to a QR code).

For example, pointing an iPad at a marker on the floor of the building could reveal a graphic of the radiant heating system underneath, making an otherwise invisible system visible.

Researchers at Tufts and the Harvard Graduate School of Education provided insights for the development of the augmented reality feature for the building, Fraunhofer noted.

Project Team and About CSE

The $23 million “deep retrofit” project of the historic building was partially funded by state and city economic development grants, according to the organization.

The project team included Commonwealth Ventures, developer; Gilbane Building Company, general contractor; DiMella Shaffer, architect; and BR+A, engineering firm.

Founded in 2008, the Fraunhofer CSE says it’s dedicated to the commercialization of clean energy technologies. CSE engages in collaborative R&D with private companies, government, and academic institutions, performing research that benefits firms, industries, and society.



Tagged categories: Building envelope; Design; Energy efficiency; Green building; Research; Solar energy

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