Sustainable Metal Building Envelopes


The professorship ‘Sustainable Metal Building Envelopes’, supported and funded by the Internationalen Verband für den Metallleichtbau, IFBS, was established at RWTH on the 1st of July 2015. It is chaired by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Markus Kuhnhenne. The professorship incorporates research and teaching, covering aspects of static design, building physics and, in particular, the sustainability of building envelopes made of lightweight metal structural elements. In addition, there are many interdisciplinary research topics based on classical steel construction and other related topics.

Considering the sustainability of construction is an important requirement for future-proofing buildings. The advantages of lightweight metal construction include the high recycling potential, the easy deconstruction and reusability of individual components as well as the high durability and value of the components. In addition to discussing stability and mechanical strength, there is a focus on energy-efficient construction. The increase in the energy quality of lightweight metal building envelopes is through the reduction of heat transfer. In addition, it is becoming increasingly important to consider material and resource efficiency due to increasing production costs and the decreasing economic availability of raw materials. Future-orientated and sustainable construction means optimising the ecological, economic and social aspects of buildings.

Teaching in this area combines design, planning and performance, along with assessing the field of lightweight metal construction and paying particular attention to its sustainability. The teaching and research area ‘Sustainability in Lightweight Metal Construction’ is an academic partner of the German Sustainable Building Council; the Institute of Steel Construction is a founding member of the DGNB.

Professor Kuhnhenne is a member of the Round Table for Sustainable Construction at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, the TC 7 ‘Cold-formed thin walled Sheet Steel in Buildings’ and the TC 14 ‘Sustainability and Eco-Efficiency of Steel Construction’ of ECCS, the European Convention for Constructional Steelwork.

Research activities

You can find an overview of current and past lightweight metal research projects here.