An 'intelligent facade' differs from a traditional facade in that it incorporates variable devices whose control adaptability enables the building envelope to act as a climate moderator. By using the facade in this way, we can provide a building with the ability to accept or reject free energy from the external environment, and as a result reduce the amount of artificial energy required to achieve comfortable internal conditions.
However, buildings that utilise such devices can become complex environmental systems, requiring automatic control to provide environmental equilibrium and energy efficiency. Research on these types of buildings has shown that a link exists between an occupant’s perceived level of discomfort and the lack of personal control they believe they have over their environments.
The factors that affect the control of automated facades and the way in which people over-ride them are numerous and often contain a high degree of uncertainty. A figure illustrating these factors can be viewed here.
One thing that became clear during the initial stages of this study was that the term 'intelligent facade', used in journals and book titles and now everyday practice, is misleading. Without getting into an argument on artificial intelligence and the definition of intelligence, it is safe to say that the word intelligence originates from our own perception of the human ability to comprehend, reason and learn. Therefore even if we define intelligence in this restrictive sense, we can see that most of the 'intelligent facades' of today are not intelligent at all, but simply adaptive. Therefore for the majority of this report the now common term 'intelligent facade' has been replaced with the term adaptive facade.
The adaptive facade as with any facade must meet a set of performance criteria which are outlined here.