A major objective in the design and operation of buildings is to maintain occupant comfort without incurring significant energy use. Particularly in narrower-plan buildings, the thermophysical properties and behaviour of their façades are often an important determinant of internal conditions. Building facades have been, and are being, developed to adapt their heat and mass transfer characteristics to changes in weather conditions, number of occupants and occupant’s requirements and preferences. Both the wall and window elements of a facade can be engineered to (i) harness solar energy for photovoltaic electricity generation, heating, inducing ventilation and daylighting (ii) provide varying levels of thermal insulation and (iii) store energy. As an adaptive façade may need to provide each attribute to differing extents at particular times, achieving their optimal performance requires effective control.
This paper reviews key aspects of current and emerging adaptive façade technologies. These include (i) mechanisms and technologies used to regulate heat and mass transfer flows, daylight, electricity and heat generation (ii) effectiveness and responsiveness of adaptive façades, (iii) appropriate control algorithms for adaptive facades and (iv) sensor information required for façade adaptations to maintain desired occupants’ comfort levels while minimising the energy use.