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Building Smart
April 1, 2015   
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The recently opened Małopolska Laboratory of Energy-Efficient Construction (MLBE) in Cracow is a 1,100-square-meter research facility filled with ultramodern equipment for testing energy efficiency and low-emission construction technology. The more than zl.20 million laboratory is part of the Cracow University of Technology in southern Poland.

The glazed, five-story laboratory has over 3,000 sensors embedded in the walls, ceiling slabs and foundations. Throughout the day the lab monitors the temperature, the air stream flow and the humidity of construction materials. Precise measurement data is collected by a server for further analysis. Such research is particularly important because, beginning 2020, Poland will have to respect strict European Union criteria for energy savings in buildings.

The laboratory comprises devices including a thermal manikin—a device that makes it possible to find out about how people feel in different temperatures, in terms of sweating and feeling cold, for example. Such data enables scientists to conduct research on the impact of different building technologies on the health and physical well-being of people.

Another interesting device used in the Cracow laboratory is a self-propelled robot with three sets of sensors for measuring the microclimate.

The lab contains a three-dimensional scanner combined with a thermal imaging camera for scanning building interiors. There is also a device known as an artificial sun. This makes it possible to conduct research in conditions simulating sunlight even in the middle of the night. There is a special chamber for testing solar panels and another chamber—called a climate chamber—that makes it possible to expose selected objects to various temperatures while simultaneously adjusting relative humidity. All the devices are controlled by a Building Management System (BMS).

The lab offers facilities for studying building physics, air-conditioning and heating systems that make it possible to simulate the behavior of different types of buildings at the same time. The laboratory can create many temperature zones and is equipped with different air-conditioning and ventilation systems operating independently of one another. The heat for the lab comes from a traditional gas boiler and the district heating system as well as energy supplied by submersible pumps. This makes it possible to assess the energy efficiency of different types of heating installations.

Teresa Bętkowska
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