Technologies for more sustainable housing construction

Project justification:

The concept of making cities more sustainable is increasingly seen as an essential need in our world reality. Civil construction is the largest consumer of natural resources in the economy, being able to account for the consumption of up to 75% of the extracted natural resources, thus causing a great impact on the environment; and a large portion of these resources is destined to the housing sector.

In Brazil, this sector presents major problems both due to the large housing deficit and the lack of regulations and guidelines that seek to save natural resources and improve performance in housing. Thus, an increase in their sustainability will have a positive impact on environmental sustainability and on the quality of life of the population.


Develop solutions suited to the Brazilian reality, to make housing construction more sustainable, with a focus on low - and middle-income developments and self-managed construction.

Physical Goals:

  1. State of the art survey.
  2. Identification of needs for technological innovations.
  3. Identification of public policy alternatives.
  4. Development of methodology for assessing the sustainability of housing.
  5. Manuals for the design, execution and use of more sustainable housing.
  6. Produce a simplified manual for more sustainable self-managed housing.

Partner Universities:

  • USP Polytechnic School
  • Unicamp Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture and Urbanism
  • University of Uberlândia
  • University of Goiás 
  • Department of Civil Engineering UFSC

Project general coordinator: 

 Vahan Agopyan

Subproject: Energy Efficiency


Sustainability involves different areas of knowledge and expertise, among which the rational use of energy stands out as one of the main premises for more sustainable projects, since in recent decades energy consumption has increased worldwide, due to the way of life and the demands of the population.

In buildings, this is reflected in the increasing demand for comfort through systems and equipment supplied with electricity, and these increases are largely achieved by non-renewable energy sources whose reserves are rapidly running out.

In Brazil, the energy industry accounted for 89% of national consumption in 2003, with the remaining 11% being imported, mainly mineral coal, natural gas, oil and its derivatives and, to a lesser extent, electricity through Itaipu.

About 43.8% of the Domestic Energy Supply came from renewable sources, where 14.5% correspond to hydraulic generation and 29.6% to biomass. But the other 56% comes from fossil and other non-renewable sources (oil and derivatives – 40%, natural gas – 7.6%, mineral coal – 6.5%, Uranium – 1.8%).

According to data from BEN (National Energy Balance) for 2004, electricity consumption by sector was 46.9% for the industrial sector, and 45.2% for buildings, of which 22.3% for the residential sector, 14.2% for the commercial sector and 8.7% for the public sector. 

This panorama shows that one of the main sectors to consider for a reduction in energy consumption in the country is residential and buildings in general, confirming the importance of considering energy efficiency as one of the main points for the development of more sustainable projects in Brazil. From this point of view, the objective should be to seek a reduction in energy consumption and an increase in renewable sources. 

The main targets for energy consumption in a building are lighting systems and technical systems, mainly air conditioning, water heating and the efficiency of the equipment used. 

The design of the building can influence mainly its thermal performance, lighting and the use of technical systems.

And for this, several variables influence, including the orientation of the building, bioclimatic characteristics, thermal properties of windows, walls and roofs and natural ventilation, among others.

When these variables are considered, the demand for electricity can be influenced and on the other hand the use of low-impact renewable energies will help to avoid resource depletion and CO2 emissions.

Renewable energies can be incorporated into the project, such as solar thermal, heating and photovoltaics; wind, geothermal, biomass, etc.

As part of the rational use of energy in buildings, it is also necessary to consider the analysis of all its components throughout their life cycle, from their production, process, incorporation into the work, and subsequent recycling. This places the building in a new perspective, where part of the industrial and transport consumption can be associated with the production of materials and the construction of the building.


Development of products that help to incorporate the concept of energy efficiency in housing, with low and medium income housing and self-managed construction as its main focus.


Development of manuals, reports, evaluation methodology, study of innovations and proposition of public policies that promote energy efficiency in housing in a way adapted to the Brazilian reality.

Products to be developed:

  • Description of the state of the art of energy efficiency in buildings with a focus on low- and middle-income housing and self-managed construction.
  • Elaboration of chapters referring to energy efficiency within technical manuals established in the project for two target audiences: specialized and simplified for self-managed construction. 
  • Survey of necessary energy efficiency requirements to be included in a methodology for evaluating the sustainability of housing in Brazil. 
  • Proposal of suggestions for public policies that promote the implementation of more sustainable housing.
  • Study of possible technological innovations in the area, of products and processes.

Produtos do projeto:


24 months.

Start date:

April 1, 2005.

Human Resources:

María Andrea Triana Montes

Available reports:

Article: TRIANA, M.A; LAMBERTS, R. (2007)
"Brazilian environmental assessment methodology for the residential sector: energy efficiency"
In: IX National Meeting and V Latin American Conference on Comfort in the Built Environment
ENCAC 2007, Ouro Preto, Anais.

project website