Alexandra Rempel, M.Arch., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies Program

University of Oregon, Eugene OR

Recruiting Climatic Resources for Passive Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation of Buildings

Warming of the earth’s climate is unequivocal, and recent changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia: the atmosphere and oceans are warmer, oceans are more acidic, global ice has diminished, and sea levels have risen, threatening the viability of numerous ecosystems and human societies. Anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from fossil fuel use, in turn, are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming; these are now higher than ever recorded (IPCC, 2014).


Space heating, cooling, and ventilation of buildings are directly responsible for an estimated 40% of energy consump-tion in the U.S. (39 quadrillion Btu), and 1.9 billion metric tons of CO2 annually; per-capita values are also highest, globally, in the U.S., which consumes ~20% of the world's energy.

Moreover, renewable electricity generation is not growing rapidly enough to diminish space heating-related emissions significantly, particularly as transportation becomes electrified. The sizable contribution of space conditioning to climate change has caused the Intergovern-mental Panel on Climate Change to call directly for advances in “Avoiding Mechanical Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation Systems” in buildings in its most recent report.


The work of this laboratory is focused exactly on that: the detailed understanding of climatic resources, and the rigorous investigation of intelligent controls, to accomplish the avoidance of mechanical conditioning  through the design of high-performance passive heating, cooling, and ventilation systems for contemporary buildings.

Passive Systems & Controls Laboratory

University of Oregon