Wireless buildings become energy efficient
A study addressed the way buildings can be energy efficient and wireless friendly. This allows for a low energy consumption building with good wireless signal coverage for users. There has been a growing need for better understanding of wireless performance in relation to building design. This knowledge is necessary for choosing construction materials for efficient energy consumption and efficient propagation of radio waves.
An EU-funded project, WIFEEB (Wireless friendly energy efficient buildings), sought to develop and verify the wireless-friendly, energy-efficient building concept and to design and evaluate construction materials. The work also aimed to show how existing buildings can be reconfigured and how new buildings can be designed.
Work involved calculating the energy and wireless performance of a building by assessing the measurements to include both current and future wireless networks and systems. Also analysed were thermal properties of materials, including concrete, brick, wood and plaster.
WIFEEB studied two structures in particular: frequency selective (FSS) building components such as walls, windows and facades, and intelligent walls. Many FSS were designed for use in buildings.
Results showed that although FSS can be useful in passing signals, their ability to stop them is limited. The study investigated the use of intelligent walls for their ability to reconfigure a building according to different clientele and needs.
Computer-aided design (CAD) tools were developed and optimised to combine wireless propagation models with energy efficiency models, producing a complete simulation model for the built environment.
Additionally, partners implemented 3D modelling capability of the software iBuildnet to allow CAD data for a building to be input directly, setting up the model for simulation and giving 3D outputs.
Case studies modelled in iBuildnet included a secure building, a smart home including smart energy metering, the use of intelligent reconfigurable structures, and a mixed-use shopping and commercial environment. Results were verified experimentally for a range of scenarios.
The ability to provide an efficient network for wireless signal coverage while reducing the energy consumption of a building is slated to have tremendous socioeconomic impact.