Industry/University Collaborative Research Solutions

CBE is a place where prominent industry leaders and internationally recognized researchers cooperate to produce substantial, holistic, and far-sighted research on buildings.

Primary Objectives of CBE

Our mission is to improve the environmental quality and energy efficiency of buildings by providing timely, unbiased information on building technologies and design and operation techniques.

Our projects fall into two broad program areas. First, we develop new ways to “take the pulse" of buildings in operation: measuring the occupants’ responses to their indoor environments, and linking them to improved physical measurements of indoor environmental quality. This feedback is directed variously at those who manage, operate, and design buildings.

Secondly, we study technologies that hold promise for making buildings more environmentally friendly, more productive to work in, and more economical to operate. This helps our manufacturing partners to target their product offerings, and facility management and design partners to apply these new technologies effectively.

Both program areas are supported by fundamental research into human physiology, indoor airflow, thermal performance of building systems, and an extensive occupant-survey program. We actively participate in standards and guides for ASHRAE and USGBC in order to remove barriers to effective building technologies, and to speed their implementation. We also develop software for design, operation, and research.

CBE’s Organizational Structure

The Center for the Built Environment was founded in 1997 under the National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) program.

The Center is guided by an Industry Advisory Board (IAB) that meets semi-annually to discuss research, approve annual budgets, and plan future research. The CBE Advisory Board represents the diversity of the building industry, including manufacturers, building owners, facility managers, contractors, architects, engineers, government agencies, and utilities. During these meetings, partner representatives provide CBE researchers with research opportunities, case-study buildings, and knowledge and contacts gained from their professional experience.

CBE research staff and research affiliates have developed ways to "take the pulse" of buildings in operation.

CBE studies promising new technologies and design strategies.

Interaction between researchers and industry representatives is a key feature of CBE's organizational framework.