Around half of all office and administrative buildings in Germany are equipped with cooling or air-conditioning systems. Many studies forecast that the energy demand for building cooling in Germany and Europe will continue to rise. It is assumed that by 2015 at the latest, most new commercial buildings will be furnished with cooling or air-conditioning systems, and that significant numbers of such systems will be retrofitted in existing buildings.
Within the research field Cooling and Air-Conditioning in Buildings, we develop and evaluate optimized energy concepts – taking into account architecture, building physics and technical building components – that are characterized by low cooling energy requirements in summer and high levels of system efficiency, and that meet high standards of thermal workstation comfort. We particularly focus on the use of natural, ambient heat sinks, such as earth, ground water and ambient air, which in summer can often be directly used to freely, and thus efficiently, cool buildings. Should the building and its uses require greater levels of cooling, a reversible heat pump can provide energy-efficient air-conditioning. In addition, we develop technologies and concepts that permit the use of solar thermal energy or photovoltaics to supply air-conditioning in buildings – particularly in hot climates.