Professor Mattheos Santamouris

International built environment expert Professor Mattheos Santamouris has been appointed UNSW’s inaugural Anita Lawrence Chair in High Performance Architecture, the first of its kind in Australia.

Professor Santamouris is currently director of the Laboratory of Building Energy Research at the University of Athens, and was formerly president of The National Centre for Renewable and Energy Savings, Greece’s national body for the promotion of renewable energy sources and energy conservation.

He is also editor in chief of journal Energy and Buildings, former editor in chief of the Journal of Advances in Building Energy Research and former associate editor of the Solar Energy Journal.

The UNSW’s high performance architecture research area will study methods to minimise the environmental footprint of buildings through enhanced architectural design and performance evaluation, including how ventilation, lighting, acoustics, energy and water can be incorporated into buildings to improve efficiency.

Dean of UNSW Built Environment Professor Alec Tzannes said he was honoured to welcome a world-class leader in high performance architecture as the inaugural appointment of the chair.

“Professor Santamouris’ contribution to the advancement of the design sciences is of global significance and truly exceptional,” Professor Tzannes said.

“His research interests in sustainability, technology and the invention of low energy materials complement existing strengths in the faculty and within UNSW more generally. Professor Santamouris’ expertise will provide our graduating students with a distinctive and highly relevant skillset, enabling them to deliver more sustainable and liveable architecture in the future.”

Professor Santamouris said his main aim as chair would be to mitigate the environmental impact of the built environment by decreasing resources used by buildings.

“Around 40 per cent of the total energy consumption in developed nations is attributable to buildings,” he said. “Manufacturing of building components and products requires almost three billion tonnes of raw materials per year, which is equivalent of 40 to 50 per cent of the global annual material use.”

He said Australia was highly developed in terms of its energy performance in the built environment.

The chair was established with a bequest from UNSW alumna and former Built Environment lecturer associate professor Anita Lawrence, a specialist in acoustics.

“A person’s experience of a building can be drastically altered by bad acoustics – it’s imperative that architects, builders and landscape architects understand the importance of achieving optimal sound in a room or building,” she said.

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