School of Architecture

Research Agenda

Commercial and residential buildings are responsible for roughly 40% of all carbon emissions and primary energy use, more than any other sector in the US. Moreover, this excludes the significant energy and emissions required to extract, process, transport and assemble building components. Globally, the production of cement alone accounts for 4% of carbon dioxide emissions. Consequently, reducing the environmental impact of building construction and operations is critical to address interrelated issues such as global climate change.

Building envelopes, mechanical systems and daylighting are the traditional emphasis of building science scholarship. The role of structural systems in the overall performance of a building has been largely neglected. In contemporary practice, architects and engineers choose a structural system very early during the design process depending on constraints such as building codes, cost, required spans, construction schedule and site constraints. Very little consideration is given to other ways the structure could contribute to improving sustainable outcomes. This is in spite of the fact that the structure of a typical office building contributes roughly one-quarter of the initial embodied energy and is, at the very least, the armature for all other building systems.

Like all other aspects of a building, the structural system needs to be understood in terms of wide range of sustainability issues: embodied energy, operational energy, longevity and reuse. If structural systems could be left exposed without additional finishes and be configured to provide a higher level of thermal comfort, more daylight and acoustic isolation, this could significantly reduce the operational energy and the initial materials required for new construction. A multi-performance structural system, in contrast to high-performance structural materials that aim to only improve structural properties, offers considerable and largely untapped opportunities to improve new and existing buildings while potentially lowering construction costs.

Consequently, my current research, teaching and community outreach in the School of Architecture at Portland State University is related to the use of sustainable and multi-performance structural systems in buildings. This currently manifests itself in six research endeavors outlined below:

(1) Identifying and mitigating non-technical barriers, in terms of information gaps, multidisciplinary collaboration and risk mitigation, to the use of sustainable structural materials and systems.

(2) Developing data and tools for comparing a range of sustainability and performance criteria for structural alternatives that architects and engineers can use early and throughout the design process.

(3) In-situ monitoring of multi-performance structures to assess which strategies and combinations of systems work best.

(4) Testing the structural, thermal, and acoustic performance of new multi-performance structural assemblies and systems.

(5) Exploring the potential of seismic retrofits to act as multi-performance retrofits (reducing energy use and improving thermal, acoustic, daylighting performance) with schools as a major target for this type of research.

(6) Investigating and developing structural systems that increase the longevity of buildings through incremental change and adaptive reuse.


Published Research

Griffin, C.T., Kolvin, K., McWilliams, H. & North, S. (under review: 2015). Using infrared thermography to target energy retrofits for existing buildings. In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Building Physics for a Sustainable Built Environment. Turin, Italy, 14-17 June 2015.

Griffin, C.T. Deines, B. & McEvoy Baines, J. (under review: 2015). Comparing the benefits of multi-performance retrofits to normative energy retrofits. In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Building Physics for a Sustainable Built Environment. Turin, Italy, 14-17 June 2015.

Griffin, C.T. (under review: 2015). Research-based design as translational research between the academy and practice. In Proceedings of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC) 2015 Conference. Chicago, USA, 6-9 April 2015.

Boon, C. & Griffin, C.T. (under review: 2015). Evolutionary parametric analysis for optimizing spatial adjacencies: A generative tool for architectural programming. In Proceedings of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC) 2015 Conference. Chicago, USA, 6-9 April 2015.

Griffin, C.T., Douville, E., Thompson, B.A., & Hoffman, M. (2014). Using multi-performance criteria to evaluate long-span structural systems in schematic design. In Sustainable Structures: The Intersections of Structural Systems and Green Buildings, the proceedings of the 5th Annual School of Architecture Symposium. Portland, OR. 17-18 April 2014.

Griffin, C.T., Bynum, L., Green, A., Marandyuk, S., Namgung, J., & Burkhardt, A. (2013). Comparing the embodied energy of structural systems in parking garages. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Structures & Architecture (ICSA2013). Guimaraes, Portugal, 24-26 July 2013. pp. 945-952. ISBN: 9780415661959

Griffin, C.T., Douville, E., Thompson, B., & Hoffman, M. (2013). A multi-performance comparison of long-span structural systems. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Structures & Architecture (ICSA2013). Guimaraes, Portugal, 24-26 July 2013. pp. 1668-1676. ISBN: 9780415661959

McWilliams, H. & Griffin, C.T. (2013). A critical assessment of concrete and masonry structures for reconstruction after seismic events in developing countries. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Structures & Architecture (ICSA2013). Guimaraes, Portugal, 24-26 July 2013. pp. 857-864. ISBN: 9780415661959

Sedor, M., Griffin, C.T. & Konis, K. (2013). The role of structures in daylighing retrofits for existing buildings. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Structures & Architecture (ICSA2013). Guimaraes, Portugal, 24-26 July 2013. pp. 1748-1790. ISBN: 9780415661959

Schmidt, J. & Griffin, C.T. (2013). Barriers to the design and use of cross-laminated timber structures in high-rise housing. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Structures & Architecture (ICSA2013). Guimaraes, Portugal, 24-26 July 2013. pp. 2225-2231. ISBN: 9780415661959

Griffin, C.T. (2013). Urban Filtration | Architecture as Watershed. In Proceedings of the Annual ACSA Conference. San Francisco, 21-24 March 2013.

Griffin, C.T. (2012). The Paddington Terrace House: An Example of Incrementally Accommodating Change from the House to the City. In Proceedings of the EAAE/ARCC International Conference on Architectural Research. Milan, Italy, 7-10 June 2012.

Knowles, C., Theodoropoulos, C., Griffin, C., & Allen, J. (2011). Oregon design professionals views on structural building products in green buildings: implications for wood. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 41(2), 390-400.

Griffin C.T. (2011). Ordering the structure of light wood framed row houses to sustainably accommodate change: San Francisco's Sunset District as a cautionary tale. In Gibson M, Kendall S, editors. Architecture in the Fourth Dimension: Proceedings of an International Conference of CIB W104: Open Building Implementation and CIB W110: Informal Settlements and Affordable Housing. Boston, MA, 15-17 November 2011. pp. 146-154. ISBN: 0937994448

Griffin C.T., Knowles, C., Theodoropoulos, C., & Allen. J. (2010). Barriers to the implementation of sustainable structural materials in green buildings. In: Cruz P, editor. Structures and Architecture: Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Structures & Architecture (ICSA2010). Guimaraes, Portugal, 21-23 July 2010. pp. 1315-1323. ISBN: 9780415492492

Griffin, C.T., Reed, B., & Hsu, S. (2010). Comparing the embodied energy of structural systems in buildings. In: Cruz P, editor. Structures and Architecture: Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Structures & Architecture (ICSA2010). Guimaraes, Portugal, 21-23 July 2010. pp. 1333-1339. ISBN: 9780415492492

Griffin, C. (2009). Integrated design: Collaboration and experimentation in Le Corbusier's Immeuble Clarte. In: Rizzuto T, Welty, C, editors. Le Corbusier: Architecture, Urbanism and Theory: Proceedings of Le Corbusier - The Annual Dean's Symposium 2009. Atlanta (GA): Southern Polytechnic State University. pp. 137-145. ISBN: 0974672483

Griffin, C. (2007). Defining permanence: Structuring housing for incremental change. In Proceedings of the Sixth China Urban Housing Conference, Beijing, 26-28 March 2007. pp. 541-552. ISBN: 9787507418453


Reports and White Papers

Griffin, C., McWilliams, H., and Dacey, A. (2013) Using Infrared Thermography of Existing Masonry Walls to Target Retrofit Efforts and Lessons for Future Additions.

Griffin, C. (2005). Sustainability, Performance and Mix Design of High Volume Fly Ash Concrete. Master's thesis, Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

Griffin, C. (2005). Defining permanence: Structuring housing for incremental change. Master's thesis, Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

Griffin, C. (2004). An introduction to biophilia and the built environment. RMI Solutions. 20(1): 7-11.


Grants

Interdisciplinary, Research-based Engineering and Design (IRED) Green Building Scholars Program. NSF, S-STEM Program, Division of Undergraduate Education, PI, 2014-2019, $630,978.

Research-based Design and Education. Van Evera and Janet M. Bailey Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation. PI, 2013-2018, $100,000.

Multidisciplinary Collaboration and Research-Based Design. NCARB Grant for the Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy. PI, 2012-2013, $16,000.
NCARB Award: Through Students' Eyes - Portland State University

Extending Research Capability for Evaluation of Multi-performance Building Systems. Facility Investment Grant, Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies (BEST) Center. Co-PI, 2010-2011, $82,000.

Documenting Multi-performance Structural Systems to Reduce Cost and Increase Green Building Outcomes. Faculty Enhancement Grant, Portland State University. PI, 2010-2011, $8,370.

Sustainable Structural Materials: Gap Analysis Research in Support of Continuing Professional and Graduate Education. Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies (BEST) Center and Oregon Forest Research Institute (OFRI). Co-PI, 2008-2009, $60,000.


Teaching (2014-15)

Arch 586 - Integrated Systems (comprehensive studio)

Arch 583 - Architectural Design X

Arch 563 - Building Science Research Topics

Arch 467 - Building Structures


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