Crossing the Borders Between Teaching, Research and Practice: A University Project for a Zero-Energy Building in Oman


In Oman, like in all countries of the Gulf region, the building culture is in a crisis. The challenge to balance between a harsh outdoor climate and raised expectations for indoor comfort is not solved in a sustainable way, yet. Due to the availability of fossil fuel at very low costs, energy for cooling buildings is not used efficiently. This is not only wasteful, but also takes away the incentive to innovate. Consequently, the region’s building boom of the past decades was a growth without progress. Neither has significant new knowledge been generated locally, nor has external knowledge been transferred to build local capacity in the field of sustainable buildings. To break up this stagnation, The Research Council of the Sultanate of Oman (TRC) started in 2011tofundaprojectinwhichtheGermanUniversityofTechnologyinOman(GUtech) designed, planned, built, and currently operates and monitors a net-zero-energy residential building on its campus.ThispapershowsthatGUtech’sEcoHausisnotonly in a building as a product,but also a process of generating and transferring knowledge by combining teaching, research and practice within one university project.

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