School of Architecture launches BUILT, new building science teaching lab
Author: Karen O'Donnell Stein
Posted: November 10, 2015

BUILT - Building Science Lab to Advance TeachingThis fall, hundreds of architecture and engineering students will have access to a new laboratory in the School of Architecture at Portland State University that provides undergraduate students in these fields with the equipment and support to study and advance building science through hands-on research.

The lab, known as BUILT (Building Science Lab to Advance Teaching) will encourage the more-rapid integration of building science strategies, materials and systems by conducting student-led simulations or post-occupancy analysis of existing buildings and applying this research to projects currently under design through collaboration with professional practitioners. Students taking architecture classes in environmental design, building technology and even architectural history will have an opportunity to use the equipment in the lab for assigned research projects related to monitoring how buildings work, including lighting levels, thermal comfort, and energy use.

“The mission of BUILT is to provide students and faculty the resources to advance the teaching of building science specifically by introducing research experiences into undergraduate coursework at all levels,” said BUILT’s founder, Corey Griffin, Associate Professor of Architecture.

Data logging devices are available for students to check out and collect measurements on existing buildings; for example, the HDR camera on one of the lab’s 20 iPod Touch devices can be used to measure glare due to direct sunlight, the microphone can be used to measure sound levels, and a plug-in infrared camera can track temperature variations in a building envelope. State-of-the-art computers, outfitted with building simulation software enable students to compare designs with respect to daylighting, wind, solar radiation, and energy use. An electronics station where students can develop their own post-occupancy sensors using plug and play kits are among the offerings. Rapid prototyping capabilities in the School of Architecture will be expanded with the addition of the BUILT lab as well.

BUILT was created to address the pressing need for future architecture and engineering professionals to have a robust education in the STEM discipline of building science. Understanding how buildings use energy and other resources is critical to the design and engineering of green buildings.

The numbers bear out this urgent need. According to the latest US Department of Energy report, the operation of buildings consumes 41 percent of the primary energy and is responsible for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. While other sectors have been reducing energy use and carbon emissions over the last 30 years, commercial buildings have increased their energy use per square foot by over 8 percent. Additionally, the energy intensity of certified green buildings can vary dramatically, leading many building science experts to conclude that the traditional green-building rating systems may not sufficient to ensure the lowest possible energy usage in new buildings.

BUILT will hold its opening reception and open house on Thursday, November 12, from 4pm to 6pm in Shattuck Hall Room 201, immediately prior to a 6pm lecture by Tokyo-based design and branding guru Kentaro Ichiki, in Shattuck Hall Annex. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, email