academic program

The program takes into account the broader context of the energy transition in the building sector in Europe and worldwide. It allows participants to understand the coupling of the building and energy sectors in their full complexity and provides a portfolio of efficient energy solutions for buildings that exist today as well as that are under research and development. The summer academy provides a platform for learning, exchange and contribution to shaping the building sectors’ future.


The summer academy starts with course work and lectures taught by high-level scholars from academia as well as experts and practitioners from leading companies. We start with the urban contextualization of sustainability transitions in the building sector by analyzing the interplay of building practices, actors and policy regulation. Second, scholars talk about holistic strategies for energy efficient refurbishment of the building stock and the renewal of the related supply systems. Considering new constructions, we will elaborate the concept of a Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB), one which produces as much energy as it uses over the course of a year. This gives participants the knowledge and skills to apply renewable and sustainable energy technologies to the design, construction and operations of interior environments. Third, we further tackle special issues of an integrated sustainable building design, construction and operation, such as: passive and active measures for preventing overheating in summer, innovative concepts for façades, artificial lighting and daylighting concepts, heating and cooling by means of renewable energy sources, and concepts for a smart operation of buildings.

During two evening events keynote speakers present ideas for a sustainable mobility of the future and the future of urban development.

Practical training

Participants will attend practice-oriented training in the laboratories of the departments “Building Services and Energy Technology” and “Mechanical Engineering”. The labs are equipped with modern complete and full-scale systems for heating, cooling, ventilation, renewable energy facilities as well as building automation systems. The labs permit the study of entire HVAC systems in a controlled dynamic environment. During our group tours, faculty members and engineering students present demonstrations that will highlight some of the research in the areas. Participants get a first-hand learning experience by performing some experiments on their own and get hands on equipment that might be used during the individual student project.

On-site visits

Participants will visit several newly constructed and refurbished energy-efficient buildings in Berlin and in Dessau that are great examples of architectural merit, sustainable design, integration of renewable energy, intelligent building systems, technical innovations and adaptation of the users’ needs. During a guided tour we learn about the design approach and the technical systems applied to the building. We get to know what had been done to overcome economic and non-economic barriers to realize an investment in low-carbon and energy-efficient solutions.

Cultural activities

Participants will enjoy cultural activities, which intend to familiarize all with Germany and Berlin in particular as an international center for research and as a vivid cultural hotspot. The intercultural lecture “Germany: Past and Present” is embedded in the opening lectures. Guided by an energy consultant we will visit the Berlin's government district, have a technical and political tour through the German Bundestag, i.e. Reichstag building, and a visit to the Paul-Löbe-Haus. Furthermore, a professionally guided walk through Berlin on the subject of “Berlin the divided city” is planned. We will not just get an insight into the history of Berlin, but will get to know listed historic buildings, learn about the rapid architectural change the city has undergone in the past 30 years, and find out more about the challenges of transforming Berlin into a climate-neutral city by 2050.

Student project of a case study

During the second week of our summer school, interdisciplinary teams of students get together to work on a deep energy retrofit proposal for a municipal building ensemble which is located in the center of Berlin (Mitte district). The ensemble consists of the original building, which was completed in 1930 and is now a listed building, and a high-rise building constructed in the 60s. This project presented a range of challenges such as improving the façade, preventing overheating in summer, providing heating and cooling with a low-carbon approach and integrating renewable energies at the building site. Students explore a diverse range of technologies and low energy strategies to improve the building’s performance, and examine best practices in reducing the environmental impact of the building. The outcomes of the projects are presented in a plenary discussion to the client, participants of the summer academy and scholars of the departments.

ars berlin