Building Energy Solutions

Faculty in the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering conduct fundamental research on building energy systems to improve their efficiency during regular operations and resilience against disruptions. Specific research topics include building energy management and controls; combined heat and power (CHP) systems, hybrid (CHP + Solar PV + Storage) distributed energy systems; optimized water-side free-cooling for data centers; smart grid operation; the application of microgrids for communities; cybersecurity of critical infrastructure; and sustainable energy transmission and distribution. They also study the installation, commissioning, and operation of microgrids and localized energy networks, as well as the control and optimization of renewable energy sources for buildings and communities.

Research labs focused on this research area:

  • Building 7R Hybrid Energy System – Penn State Navy Yard Facilities
  • Building 661 – Penn State Navy Yard Facilities
  • Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation Network Operating Center – Philadelphia Navy Yard

Current research in progress includes the following:

(funding bodies in parentheses; Penn State architectural engineering faculty names bolded)

  • Secure grid transformation: Connecting the “grid of things” to the “grid of people” using a secure transactive energy framework (Qatar National Research Foundation), Somayeh Asadi, Behnam Mohammadi, Gabriele Oligeri
  • Quantifying enhanced performance of passive houses over conventional buildings (Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment), Lisa Iulo, William Bahnfleth, James Freihaut, Corey Griffin, Ute Poerschke, Donghyun Rim
  • Distributed control of distributed energy resource and cybersecurity testbed (U.S. Department of Defense Office of Naval Research), Javad Khazaei
  • Application of big data analytics in detection of cyberattacks in smart energy-water networks (Penn State Center for Security Research and Education), Javad Khazaei
  • Uncertainty-aware transactive building controls (Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment), Greg Pavlak, Uday Shanbhag
  • Peer-to-peer energy transactions with demand flexibility for increasing solar energy utilization (QCoefficient, Inc. and U.S. Department of Energy), Greg Pavlak, Vince Cushing, Bill Hederman, Gregor Henze
  • GraphUBEM: A graph-based urban building energy models for understanding the interdependency between buildings and supporting sustainable community planning (start-up funding), Yuqing Hu, Suhang Wang, Jianli Chen
  • Mid-Atlantic combined heat and power technology center: (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy-Advanced Manufacturing Office, DOE) (Modeling and simulation of the energy efficiency and economic advantages of distributed energy systems for buildings and communities with a focus on specific site feasibility in the mid-Atlantic region), James Freihaut, W. Valentine, Greg Pavlak
  • Optimizing the design of waterside economizers for data centers (U.S. Air Force), William Bahnfleth, Greg Pavlak


Widely acknowledged as one of the top Architectural Engineering programs in the world, the Penn State AE Department is dedicated to providing outstanding academic excellence to all of our students. The AE program is focused on preparing students and conducting research in the design, engineering, and construction of building projects.

Department of Architectural Engineering

104 Engineering Unit A

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-6394