Research Axes


The Sustainable Building Design (SBD) Lab is a research lab of the Faculty of Applied Science of Liege University. The SBD Lab focuses its activities around design decision support of high-performance buildings and user-centered advanced facades. The lab is focused on integrative sustainable design and performance monitoring addressing users’ interaction in relation to energy efficiency, thermal comfort, and indoor environmental quality. The overarching goal of promoting energy-efficiency, positive impact-built environment and human comfort and health within buildings.

As a part of the Department of Urban Environmental Engineering (UEE) in the Faculty of Applied Sciences (FSA) the lab members provide education and perform scientific research in the field of building physics, building technology related to building design. The main core areas of interest are high performance building design, facade design, structural design, climate design and computational design with an important focus on sustainability.
With our wide range of building performance simulation software, we perform computational modeling and simulation for optimizing design and renovations of high-performance buildings. Also, the laboratory is equipped with various data acquisition /logging systems for different types of temperature, humidity, airflow, turbulence, illumination intensity and carbon dioxide emissions sensors, envelope air tightness (Blower Door) and infrared camera. The lab members can monitor thermal comfort, indoor air quality and main influencing factors on an occupant’s sense of comfort following the international standard ISO 7730 that combines all of the parameters in the PMV/PPD measurement.

Labs Research Approach and Methodologies
In our lab, we believe that without newly collected data no research group can create a significant scientific contribution to its community. Therefore, our lab trains young researchers in the methodology of experimental work, ethical data acquisition, the careful analysis of data and the faithful and accurate publication of results. We innovate in data acquisition techniques and we seek to support the design decision making through evidence-based and performance-based approaches. We follow four robust research methodologies that we use in our daily research to create excellent research findings and disseminate and publish our research in top research journals. The following text explains those methodologies.

1. Modelling Methodology
With our wide range of building performance simulation software, we perform computational modeling and simulation for optimizing design and renovations of high-performance buildings. At SBD Lab, we perform building performance simulations using EnergyPlus (DesignBuilder) program. Our simulations are validated through monitoring and field measurements of energy consumption and thermal comfort metrics. The laboratory is equipped with various data acquisition /logging systems for different types of temperature, humidity, airflow, turbulence, illumination intensity and CO2 sensors, envelope air tightness (Blower Door) and infrared camera. Our methodology relies first on monitoring case studies and conducting audits to characterize the building construction, energy systems and occupant’s behavior. Secondly, we create the simulation model and validate it based on the monitored data. We have a long experience with benchmarking of different building typologies.

- Attia, S., Lacombe, T., Rakotondramiarana, H. T., Garde, F., & Roshan, G. R. (2019). Analysis Tool for Bioclimatic Design Strategies in Hot Humid Climates. Sustainable Cities and Society, Vol.45, February 2019, p 88-24, 10.1016/j.scs.2018.11.025.
- Perez-Fargallo, A., Pulido-Arcas, J. A., Rubio-Bellido, C., Trebilcock, M., Piderit, B., & Attia, S. (2018). Development of a new adaptive comfort model for low income housing in the central-south of Chile. Energy and Buildings. Volume 178, 1 Nov. 2018, Pages 94-106, ISSN 0378-7788,
- Attia, S., Evrard,A., Gratia, E. (2012) Development of Benchmark Models for the Egyptian Residential Buildings Sector , Applied Energy, Vol. 94, June 2012, Pages 270-284, ISSN 0306-2619, 10.1016/j.apenergy.2012.01.065

2. Observational Methodology
We perform climate and weather analysis and predictions using statistical analysis techniques based on static and adaptive comfort model. This methodology seeks the analysis and visualization of climatic data for bioclimatic design recommendations, heating and cooling degree calculations, climate change predictions and comfort assessment based on outdoor weather data sets. The SBD lab has a rich library of old and recent worldwide weather datasets that allows us to cross it with solar and topographical satellite data to characterize and classify climate responsive guidelines.
Also, we believe there is incredible value in monitoring and questioning occupants in their natural habitat so that lessons can be learned about comfort and user interaction. We collect long-term data to develop statistically significant relationships between various inputs (e.g., time of day, carbon dioxide concentration, solar conditions, etc.) and adaptive occupant actions (e.g., window opening and closing, thermostat use). We perform qualitative and quantitative assessment of occupants’ thermal comfort in the built environment.  We assess the feasibility of applying EN 16798 and ASHRAE 55 standards for fully air-conditioned and free running buildings. Also, we can develop novel adaptive comfort models that better reflects the inhabitants’ needs and socio-economic culture. Extensive monitoring of occupants and/or extensive user surveys questionnaires in existing buildings are used to assess occupants’ behavior and satisfaction.

- Attia, S., Hamdy, M., Ezzeldin, S., (2017) Twenty-year tracking of lighting savings and power density in the residential sector, Energy and Buildings, Volume 154, 24 August 2017, Pages 113-126, ISSN 0378-7788, 24 August 2017,
- Attia, S., & Carlucci, S. (2015) Impact of different thermal comfort models on zero energy residential buildings in hot climate, Energy and Buildings, Volume 102, 1 September 2015, Pages 117-128, ISSN 0378-7788, 3.
- Roshan, Gh.R., Almomenin, H.S., da Silveira Hirashima, S.Q., Attia,S. (2019) Estimate of outdoor thermal comfort zones for different climatic regions of Iran, Journal of Urban Climate, Vol. 27, March 2019, Pages 8-23.
- Roshan, Gh.R., Farrokhzad, M., Attia,S. (2017) Defining thermal comfort boundaries for heating and cooling demand estimation in Iran's urban settlements, Building and Environment, 121, 168-189, ISSN: 0360-1323,
- Kumar Singh, M., Attia, S., Mahapatra, S. & Teller, J. (2016) Assessment of thermal comfort in existing pre-1945 residential building stock, Energy, 98, 122-134, ISSN 0360-5442,

3. Experimental Methodology
We perform experimental analysis of heat transfer in buildings and thermal systems. The experimental design involves the use of a laboratory setting, physical construction of the treatment condition, and instrumented measurement of the outcome variables. The lab setting can be temperature-controlled rooms or test cells into which a large "hot box" can be placed; the hot box was a cube, on one side of which the double-pane window design was installed. Outcome measurements include thermocouples measured air and surface temperatures; bulb thermometers measured radiation temperature; and flux sensors measured heat fluxes.

- Mabila, E., Delvoie, S., Toguyeni, D., Attia, S., & Courard, L. (2020). An Experimental Study on the Use of Fonio Straw and Shea Butter Residue for Improving the Thermophysical and Mechanical Properties of Compressed Earth Blocks. Journal of Minerals and Materials Characterization and Engineering8(2), 107-132.

4. Qualitative Methodology
We perform systematic literature reviews, experts’ interviews, usability testing and focus group discussions to tackle new challenges and explore new research terrains. We use subjective research methods and validate them to avoid bias. We perform qualitative assessment of occupants’ thermal comfort in the built environment.

- Piderit, M.B., Vivanco, F., van Moeseke, G. & Attia, S. (2019) Net Zero Buildings A Framework for an Integrated Policy in ChileSustainability, Vol.11 (5), p.1494, 10.3390/su11051494.
- Attia, S., Bilir, S., Safy, T., Struck, C., Loonen, R., Goia, F. (2018) Current Trends and Future Challenges in the Performance Assessment of Adaptive Facade Systems, Energy and Buildings. Volume 179, 15 November 2018, Pages 165-182, ISSN 0378- 7788.
- Attia, S., Eleftheriou, P., Xeni, et al. (2017) Overview and future challenges of nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB) design in Southern Europe, Energy and Buildings, Volume 155, 15 November 2017, Pages 439-458, ISSN 0378- 7788,