Architecture and Energy. Towards a broader Focus.

Michael Lauring, Rob Marsh

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalPaper without publisher/journalResearchpeer-review

542 Downloads (Pure)


 Architecture and Energy. Towards a broader focus.

By Michael Lauring and Rob Marsh


In typical new Danish dwellings build according to the standards of the Building Regulations 2008 approximately 35% of the primary energy use is related to heat consumption divided into 23% room heating and 12% hot water. 65% of the primary energy use is related to electricity driven purposes such as cooling, ventilation, pumps, lighting and appliances. In new office buildings the figures are 16% for room heating and 5% for hot water while 79% goes to other purposes driven by electricity[1]. As the global temperatures rise, the need for room heating will go down, while the need for cooling will go up.

The strategies for low energy buildings therefore cannot focus only on heating, but must have a much wider scope. Architects cannot focus only on the building envelope, but must consider also the spatial organization of buildings setting the conditions for daylight and ventilation.

A recent research project carried out by The Danish Building Research Institute, Aalborg University, by Aarhus School of Architecture and others aims to find ways to simultaneously optimize the architectural quality and the energy efficiency when designing dwellings and office buildings. The project takes its starting point in the aim for good daylight conditions, which should be a main topic when heading for architectural quality not least in the Nordic countries. It goes on to consider passive solar heat, light versus heavy constructions, and the inclusion of solar cells.

The proposed architectural and technical strategies all in all result in a 50-60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions[2]. The research project has been rewarded the Danish Electric Power Research Prize 2007.

Taking its starting point in this research project the paper demonstrates correlations between the dimensioning and organization of rooms, the amount and quality of daylight, of solar heat, the choice of materials and the inclusion of building integrated energy sources, all of which are key elements of both architecture and low energy strategies.

By insisting on a broader focus, the points of the paper do not conflict with the passive house criteria. The points may conflict with some of the typical passive house strategies, and they certainly conflict with strategies that exclusively focus on the minimization of room heating.


[1] Marsh, Larsen & Hacker (2008): Bygninger, Energi, Klima. Mod et nyt paradigme.  Statens Byggeforskningsinstitut (Danish Building Research Institute).

[2] Marsh, Larsen, Lauring & Christensen (2006): Arkitektur og energi. Statens Byggeforskningsinstitut (Danish Building Research Instititute).

Original languageEnglish
Publication date2009
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventPassivhus Norden - Göteborg, Sweden
Duration: 27 Apr 200929 Apr 2009
Conference number: 2


ConferencePassivhus Norden


  • Architecture, energy, heating, electricity


Dive into the research topics of 'Architecture and Energy. Towards a broader Focus.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this