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GEOTECH/MAT/STRUCT/CONST: Contemporary Design of Building Materials and Structures for Energy Efficiency and Hazard Resilience

Date: Thursday, November 2

Time: 3:40 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: 405 John D. Tickle Building



The interplay between building’s energy efficiency and hazard-resilience has the potential to transform how we design and assess building structures. From one perspective, energy-saving materials and green building practices may adversely impact a building’s hazard resistance. Meanwhile, poor hazard performance may contribute to greater environmental impacts and economic costs over the building’s lifespan. Yet, current building practices follow a top-down approach where the primary focus of structural design is not tied in with other aspects of building performance such as energy efficiency. This research seeks to establish a holistic design framework which considers the co-influences of material selection and the structural layout on buildings’ energy efficiency and hazard performance. In the first part of the presentation, Dr. Zhou will discuss the key factors governing the mechanical and thermophysical properties of building materials, particularly concrete and cementitious composites, along with a design approach (i.e., namely the Multi-Stage Homogenization (MSH) approach) for emerging energy-saving structural materials such as PCM-concrete and ULCC. Further, the materials’ impacts on the structural and thermal performance of building components will be discussed. An integrated analysis framework will be introduced combining buildings’ fragility analysis under natural hazards and the whole-building energy simulation under various environmental conditions.

Second part of this presentation, Dr. Zhou will introduce smart building façade system that is responsive to its surrounding environments. By utilizing 3-D printed mechanical metamaterials and their interaction with fluids (water), the building façade’s thermal (i.e., insulation and thermal mass) and mechanical (damping) properties can be adaptively tuned for optimal building energy efficiency and maximum comfort level. In combination with Artificial Intelligence (AI), the concept pursued in this research will enable the buildings’ exterior envelope to proactively learn from the surrounding environment and evolve their performance over time.



Hongyu Zhou is an Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Dr. Zhou received his PhD in Civil Engineering from Arizona State University in 2013 and bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Tongji University in 2010. His research interests include holistic design methods for energy efficient structures, smart and energy-saving infrastructural materials, and structural hazard mitigation. His research is currently funded by agencies including National Science Foundation (NSF), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and Alabama Department of Transportation. Dr. Zhou is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and American Concrete Institute (ACI). He has an active role in several technical committees. He is a founding member and the Vice Chair for ASCE SEI Committee on Bioinspired Structures, and is currently serving the secretary for the Advanced Structures and Materials Committee of ASCE Aerospace Division (ASD). He is also a voting member of ACI Committee 122 – Energy Efficiency and a member of the ASCE SEI Multi-Hazard Mitigation Committee.


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