Midday sun at the touch of a button 

Midday sun at the touch of a button 

At ETH Zurich, there is a room where the sun shines at the touch of a button; one hour it’s noon in the Sahara, the next it’s January in Berlin. Researchers use it to test newly developed building systems, components and materials.  

In the new lab, researchers can test more easily and more quickly how newly developed building systems, components and materials perform under different climatic conditions. The position of the sun, the composition of its radiation, the temperature and humidity can be adjusted to correspond to almost any point on Earth on any day of the year. 

At the heart of the lab is a world first: an artificial sun made of hundreds of powerful light- emitting diodes. These are fixed to a movable arm, allowing the system to imitate the sun’s path in different locations. The simulator was developed by Schlüter’s group in cooperation with industry partners. 

In addition to the artificial- sun room, there are two other test cells on the south side of the building that are exposed to natural sunlight and the outdoor climate. 

Arno Schlüter, ETH Professor of Architecture and Building Systems, said: “If you want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, then you have to take materials, building technology and occupant behaviour into consideration. In the Zero Carbon Building Systems Lab, we can explore how these factors interact.” 

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