Sustainable buildings and lighting researcher joins architectural engineering

Mariah Chuprinski
July 31, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Julian Wang, a researcher who specializes in building windows, lighting, daylighting and sustainable technologies, joined Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering as an associate professor on June 1. Wang also has joined Penn State's Materials Research Institute (MRI) as an affiliate faculty member.

Wang studies sustainable buildings and lighting from three perspectives.

First, he researches building envelope materials, which he will do in part through collaborative work with nanomaterial scientists from MRI, to investigate and employ spectrally selective materials for windows in order to achieve dynamic control of climate inside a building by influencing the thermal and optical behaviors of windows.

Headshot of Julian Wang

Julian Wang joined the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering as an associate professor on June 1. 

IMAGE: Courtesy Julian Wang

These windows of the future will reduce the total energy consumption in a building by transmitting heat to the indoors in the wintertime and deflecting heat in the summertime. For this research focus, he was awarded a $350,000, 36-month grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2016, as well as a $500,000, five-year Faculty Early Career Development grant from NSF in 2019.

Sez Atamturktur, the Harry and Arlene Schell Professor and head of the Department of Architectural Engineering, said Wang’s research will eventually impact user experience.

“Julian’s research on discovering new building glazing materials to optimize the daylighting and thermal performance of windows is extremely impactful in improving building performance and occupant well-being,” she said.

Atamturktur also said Wang’s partnership with MRI achieves a strategic goal.

“As an affiliate faculty of the Materials Research Institute, Julian will expand our department’s partnerships with material scientists and engineers and help accelerate advancements in new building materials,” she said.

Another ongoing sustainable building research project, funded by a People, Prosperity and the Planet grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Illuminating Engineering Society's Richard Kelly Award, involves wearable sensors that detect and monitor an individual user’s activities and microenvironmental conditions. User needs are computed, processed and transcribed to signals that can modify the thermostat, window blinds and lighting controls of a building.

“The uniqueness of this effort is the use of machine learning techniques and the individualized comfort of using wearable technology,” Wang said.

Finally, Wang studies the computation design perspective of dynamic building facades, which can adjust to climate using both biomimetic and building information modeling-based simulation methods. For example, an organism in the natural world evolves over time to unique shapes, functions or behaviors in order to adapt to climate changes in its environment. In the same way, kinetic building envelopes, or building facades, also can evolve to respond to changes in climate to save energy.

Wang will teach a graduate course titled "Solar Energy Building System Design" and will propose a course on building windows in the near future.

Wang received his bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from Yantai University in China. He went on to earn a master’s degree in architecture and a doctoral degree in engineering and building physics from Tianjin University in China. He rounded out his educational career by earning a second doctorate in architecture from Texas A&M University.

Wang also has earned graduate certificates in materials science and engineering, health care systems and sustainable urban design.

Prior to joining Penn State, Wang worked at the University of Cincinnati as an assistant professor, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher, and the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, as a research associate. He also practiced as a consultant to the green building industry.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 31, 2019