Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft founded research alliance for the building sector

Press Release /

Building industry is facing new challenges due to the present energy and financial crisis.

Prof. Klaus Sedlbauer
Prof. Klaus Sedlbauer, Chairman of the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance

Building industry is facing new challenges due to the present energy and financial crisis. Future basic conditions are mainly caused by the demographic change, higher awareness of the long-term significance of sustainable building and energy efficiency as well as access to international markets. The newly founded Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance combines the expertise and competences of 15 Fraunhofer Institutes in the field of building. On the occasion of a conference taking place in Munich in January 2009 (Messe BAU) this new Alliance was presented for the first time.

Building industry is generally perceived as "low-tech sector". The reasons are high innovation barriers, low budget and narrow time frames for building projects, and the considerable share of small and medium-sized enterprises in the value chain. Moreover, significant innovative activities are usually performed by suppliers, civil engineers and architects and not by handicraft enterprises. Shifting innovations to small and medium-sized enterprises means restricting the development of extensive innovations.

At the same time, the research and innovation potential for building industry is great. As can be observed in almost all sectors of the economy the market requires improved product quality and reduced costs simultaneously. Rising costs for raw materials, energy and operations do not necessarily result in burdens for building trades, but offer new opportunities on the market as well, especially for building industry, material development and plant and apparatus engineering.

Innovative technologies are required which increase energy efficiency in existing buildings and reduce environmental pollution and lower energy costs. Therefore, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft combined research activities in the field of building in May 2008 and founded the Alliance with 15 Fraunhofer institutes, which was introduced to the public for the first time on the occasion of Messe BAU in 2009. With a staff of more than 3.500 employees of the member institutes at 22 locations in Germany the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance completely covers all essential research-relevant topics in the field of building within the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Until now, individual institutes could only cover partial aspects in the field of building, whereas the Alliance perceives the life cycle of buildings as a total system.

"As an interdisciplinary organization the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance acts as interface between economy, research and politics. For the first time, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft offers a central contact partner for integral system solutions in the field of building. In cooperation with the building industry we intend to further develop the leading position of Germany in the field of building products and processes with regard to the aspects of sustainability in design, realization and use of buildings", said Prof. Klaus Sedlbauer, in charge of the Building Innovation Alliance and director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP). In particular, access to the research expertise and competences of the Fraunhofer Institutes is simplified for small and medium-sized enterprises but also for politics due to the activities of the Building Innovation Alliance.

The office of the Alliance was established at the Holzkirchen branch of the Fraunhofer IBP. It serves as central contact center for interested parties, acts as mediator of respective competences within the Alliance and coordinates research work. The 15 Fraunhofer institutes can offer integrated know-how in the field of information provision, material and product development, simulation, analysis of damage and systems. "Due to the networked cooperation within the Alliance it is possible to economically develop and efficiently perform integral system solutions, complex research and development tasks ", says Andreas Kaufmann, managing director of the Building Innovation Alliance, for the benefits of the customers.

The main research of the Fraunhofer Building Innovation Alliance deals with problems of sustainability and the conservation of resources, but also with aspects of the compatibility to health of building and living as well as with the problems of product, system and process optimization. The Alliance is especially engaged in the systematic assessment of buildings – from materials, building components, room and building to complete housing estates. The portfolio also contains the chronological consideration of a building comprising the total life cycle – from design, construction and renovation to reconstruction.

Members of the Alliance are: Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP, High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut EMI, Industrial Engineering IAO, Chemical Technology ICT, Manufacturing Engineering and Applied Materials Research IFAM, Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS, Information Center for Regional Planning and Building Construction IRB, Silicate Research ISC, Solar Energy Systems ISE, Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF, Environment, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT, Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI, Non-Destructive Testing IZFP and Mechanics of Materials (branch in Halle) IWMH.