A2-4: Assessment and design of innovative building systems and urban infrastructure to mediate impacts on the urban water cycle, heat island, and regional climate


Forrest Meggers, PhD

Princeton University
School of Architecture

Buildings are fundamental components of the urban environment host to many intersections between water, energy and people. Buildings must mediate the basic social demand for physical space and shelter with the basic living demands for water and energy. Our research will help better understand the intersections of these demands through scientific modeling and experimentation to better characterize the nexus between energy and water experienced by society, which is often localized or originated in design and operation of buildings the their urban infrastructure.

Buildings act as a crux for the nexus between water, energy and materials. We research the most critical manifestations of these interactions related to buildings and their supporting urban infrastructure in three overarching themes:

  1. The urban climate and its relationship to dissipation of water and energy through local urban form, infrastructure, and microclimates
  2. The energy-water nexus and the role of buildings as the fulcrum connecting mutually dependent water and wastewater demands with energy and water supply
  3. The design opportunities latent in architecture and the analysis of building systems and infrastructure for more sustainable water and energy solutions

This project will engage with water sustainability through study of energy, buildings, ecology and people, uncovering and bridging the gaps in knowledge that exist between disciplines of fundamental applied science and creative design research.  As demonstrated by our thermal imaging research there is much information that can be represented through simple overlay of data onto the form of the city, which can help both scientist address research questions along with designers to conceptualize new solutions to meet challenges of urban water its critical connection to energy in society.



The project will engage with water sustainability through study of energy, buildings, ecology and people, uncovering and bridging the gaps in knowledge that exist between disciplines of fundamental applied science and creative design research.  As shown in the figure there is much information that can be represented through simple overlay of data onto the form of the city, which can help both designers and scientist better address challenges of urban water and understand critical relationship between water and energy in society.

We will also consider novel design opportunities for new systems that integrate the benefits of evaporative cooling into the building façade construction itself as already proposed in publications with fellow UWIN collaborators. Novel building simulations of the basic systems as well as the new concepts tools will be connected to data from the wider urban climate models being developed by UWIN colleagues to more broadly characterize the urban setting. With the data developed for a specific building and for consideration of a neighborhood climate we can leverage tools for building façade thermal performance analysis that we have developed to better characterize the heat transfer between people and their surroundings, which will enable a more complete analysis of local thermal stresses on people and connect with research from UWIN colleagues on public health and environmental justice.

 Our research also considers the direct relationship of energy and water in urban infrastructure for collection, supply, storm management and wastewater treatment. In conjunction with UWIN colleagues directly on urban water demand and cost we setup methods to evaluate the energy inherent to the various processes in water systems. Our expertise in thermodynamic analysis helps to consider residual heat available in wastewater streams that can be leveraged by utilizing new building heat pump technology. We analyze the energy potentials and how these can incentivize co-benefits in the water management. In a conceptual design project we consider how the decentralized local demand for pumping for the thousands of miles of aqueduct in California creates a local energy demand, which is frequently met by diesel generators. We propose and simulate the use of solar panels not just for power, but also as covers for the channels and evaluate the potential to mitigate evaporative losses from the water surface.



For the climate analysis we will try to gather statistics for percentage of built space using evaporative cooling towers and the typical rate of water consumption. We will also take data on humidity levels around evaporative cooling systems.

Field Sensors

The research into the urban climate will include the development and utilization of new models as well as new sensors and field experiments to examine the relationship between climatic conditions and how water and energy dissipate in cities. We compare the role building air conditioning using dry versus wet heat exchange systems.

Dry heat exchangers, such as those used by common window air conditioners and small residential and rooftop units, have lower system efficiencies and are less expensive than larger water driven cooling towers that achieve lower heat rejection and temperatures and higher efficiency by exploiting the wet bulb temperature of the air through evaporative cooling. There are questions that remain to be answered about the local climatic impact on humidity from cooling towers, which we will investigate with distributed sensor platforms measuring humidity variations due to evaporative cooling deployment and the placement of these devices within the geometry of the urban fabric.


We will create building simulation models that calculate the amount of water needed for evaporative cooling towers, and that can also be linked to water demand and usage models or energy efficiency models for building. These can also be adapted for analysis of novel evaporative building design features such as evaporative façade elements.

We will also work on a model of thermal potential from wastewater based on temperature levels appropriate for various building scale and district energy demands for low-grade heat.


  1. Meggers, F. “Abstracting Energy” in Energy Accounts, Willis, D., Braham, W. W., Muramoto, K., & Barber, D. A. eds. (2016). Energy Accounts: Architectural Representations of Energy, Climate, and the Future. Routledge.
  2. Meggers, F. (2020). Surfaces of Urban Life: Design opportunities for addressing climate and comfort across scales. In M. Joachim & M. Aiolova, Design with Life: Biotech Architecture and Resilient Cities (English edition). Actar. http://actar.com/product/design-with-life/
  3. Teitelbaum, Eric, and Forrest Meggers. 2022. “Rethinking Radiant Comfort.” In Routledge Handbook of Resilient Thermal Comfort, edited by Fergus Nicol, Hom Bahadur Rijal, and Susan Roaf. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge.
  4. Meggers, Forrest. 2017. “Use-Full: Embodied Entropy in an Architecture of Moving Parts.” In Embodied Energy and Design. https://www.lars-mueller-publishers.com/embodied-energy-and-design.

Updated: November 2022

Journal Articles

  1. Asseng, Senthold, Jose R. Guarin, Mahadev Raman, Oscar Monje, Gregory Kiss, Dickson D. Despommier, Forrest M. Meggers, and Paul P. G. Gauthier. 2020. “Wheat Yield Potential in Controlled-Environment Vertical Farms.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117 (32): 19131–35. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2002655117.
  2. Aviv, Dorit, Hongshan Guo, Ariane Middel, and Forrest Meggers. 2021. “Evaluating Radiant Heat in an Outdoor Urban Environment: Resolving Spatial and Temporal Variations with Two Sensing Platforms and Data-Driven Simulation.” Urban Climate 35 (January): 100745. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.uclim.2020.100745.
  3. Aviv, Dorit, Maryam Moradnejad, Aletheia Ida, Zherui Wang, Eric Teitelbaum, and Forrest Meggers. 2020. “Hydrogel-Based Evaporative and Radiative Cooling Prototype for Hot-Arid Climates.” In SimAUD 2020, 273–80. Online: The Society for Modeling and Simulation International. May, 2020. http://simaud.org/2020/proceedings/23.pdf
  4. Aviv, Dorit, Miaomiao Hou, Eric Teitelbaum, Hongshan Guo, and Forrest Meggers. 2020. “Simulating Invisible Light: Adapting Lighting and Geometry Models for Radiant Heat Transfer.” In SimAUD 2020, 311–18. Online: The Society for Modeling and Simulation International. May 2020. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342184132_Simulating_Invisible_Light_Adapting_Lighting_and_Geometry_Models_for_Radiant_Heat_Transfer
  5. Chen, Kian Wee, Eric Teitelbaum, Forrest Meggers, Jovan Pantelic, and Adam Rysanek. 2020. “Exploring Membrane-Assisted Radiant Cooling for Designing Comfortable Naturally Ventilated Spaces in the Tropics.” Building Research & Information 0 (0): 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2020.1847025.
  6. Chen, K. W., & Meggers, F. (2020). Modelling the Built Environment in 3D to Visualize Data from Different Disciplines: The Princeton University Campus. Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture, 5, 227–234. https://doi.org/doi:10.14627/537690024
  7. Guo, H., Teitelbaum, E., Houchois, N., Bozlar, M., & Meggers, F. (2018). Revisiting the use of globe thermometers to estimate radiant temperature in studies of heating and ventilation. Energy and Buildings, 180, 83–94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2018.08.029
  8. Guo, H., Ferrara, M., Coleman, J., Loyola, M., & Meggers, F. (2020). Simulation and measurement of air temperatures and mean radiant temperatures in a radiantly heated indoor space. Energy, 193, 116369. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2019.116369
  9. Guo, H., Aviv, D., Loyola, M., Teitelbaum, E., Houchois, N., & Meggers, F. (2020). On the understanding of the mean radiant temperature within both the indoor and outdoor environment, a critical review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 117, 109207. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2019.06.014
  10. Guo, H., Teitelbaum, E., & Meggers, F. (2019). Humidifying Without Adding Humidity: Psychrometric Shifts in Humidity from Air Temperature Setbacks Enabled by Radiant Heating or Cooling. Proceedings of Building Simulation 2019, 7.
  11. Guo, Hongshan, Maria Ferrara, James Coleman, Mauricio Loyola, and Forrest Meggers. 2020. “Air Temperature and Mean Radiant Temperature Data, Collected and Simulated across a Radiantly-Heated High-Bay Laboratory.” Data in Brief 30 (June): 105192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2020.105192.
  12. Houchois, N., Teitelbaum, E., Chen, K. W., Rucewicz, S., & Meggers, F. (2019). The SMART sensor: Fully characterizing radiant heat transfer in the built environment. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1343, 012073. https://doi.org/10.1088/1742-6596/1343/1/012073
  13. Meggers, F., Aschwanden, G., Teitelbaum, E., Guo, H., Salazar, L., & Bruelisauer, M. (2016). Urban cooling primary energy reduction potential: System losses caused by microclimates. Sustainable Cities and Society, 27, 315–323. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2016.08.007
  14. J Pantelic, J., E Teitelbaum, M Bozlar, S Kim, F Meggers, (2018). Development of moisture absorber based on hydrophilic nonporous membrane mass exchanger and alkoxylated siloxane liquid desiccant, Energy and Buildings 160, 34-43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2017.10.093
  15. Shim, S., Shin, S., Meggers, F., Bou-Zeid, E., & Stone, H. A. (2016). Controlled evaporative cooling on a superhydrophilic surface: building a green wall. In Bulletin of the American Physical Society (Vol. 61–20). Portland, Oregon. Retrieved from http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DFD16/Session/R2.6
  16. Teitelbaum, Eric; Jake Read, & Forrest Meggers. (2016). Spherical Motion Average Radiant Temperature Sensor(SMART Sensor). Presented at the Sustainable Built Environment (SBE) Regional Conference, Zurich. https://doi.org/DOI 10.3218/3774-6_115 Status = Published; Acknowledgment of Federal Support = No; Peer Reviewed = Yes
  17. Teitelbaum, Eric, Forrest Meggers, George Scherer, Prathap Ramamurth, Louis Wang, Elie Bou-Zeid (2015). ECCENTRIC Buildings: Evaporative Cooling in Constructed ENvelopes by Transmission and Retention Inside Casings of Buildings. Energy Procedia 78:1593-1598. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egypro.2015.11.218 Status = Published; Acknowledgment of Federal Support = Unknown; Peer Reviewed = Yes
  18. Teitelbaum, E., Jayathissa, P., Miller, C., & Meggers, F. (2020). Design with Comfort: Expanding the psychrometric chart with radiation and convection dimensions. Energy and Buildings, 209, 109591. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2019.109591
  19. Teitelbaum, E., Chen, K. W., Meggers, F., Guo, H., Houchois, N., Pantelic, J., & Rysanek, A. (2020). Globe thermometer free convection error potentials. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-59441-1
  20. Teitelbaum, E., Rysanek, A., Pantelic, J., Aviv, D., Obelz, S., Buff, A., Luo, Y., Sheppard, D., & Meggers, F. (2019). Revisiting radiant cooling: Condensation-free heat rejection using infrared-transparent enclosures of chilled panels. Architectural Science Review, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1080/00038628.2019.1566112
  21. Teitelbaum, E., Chen, K. W., Meggers, F., Pantelic, J., Aviv, D., & Rysanek, A. (2019). The Cold Tube: Membrane assisted radiant cooling for condensation-free outdoor comfort in the tropics. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1343, 012080. https://doi.org/10.1088/1742-6596/1343/1/012080
  22. Teitelbaum, Eric, Kian Wee Chen, Dorit Aviv, Kipp Bradford, Lea Ruefenacht, Denon Sheppard, Megan Teitelbaum, Forrest Meggers, Jovan Pantelic, and Adam Rysanek. 2020. “Membrane-Assisted Radiant Cooling for Expanding Thermal Comfort Zones Globally without Air Conditioning.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2001678117.

Updated: November 2022



  1. Meggers, Forrest, Jovan Pantelic, and Eric Teitelbaum. 2021. System and method for dehumidification of air by liquid desiccant across membrane. United States US10935261B2, filed May 2, 2018, and issued March 2, 2021. https://patents.google.com/patent/US10935261B2/en
  2. Meggers, Forrest, Eric Teitelbaum, and Jake Read. 2020. Spherical-motion average radiant temperature sensor. United States US10718670B2, filed March 23, 2016, and issued July 21, 2020. https://patents.google.com/patent/US10718670B2/en
  3. Teitelbaum, Eric, Forrest MEGGERS, and Adam RYSANEK. 2020. Thermally radiative apparatus and method. United States US20200393148A1, filed November 16, 2018, and issued December 17, 2020. https://patents.google.com/patent/US20200393148A1/en

Technology Disclosures

  1. Meggers, Forrest (2018). Technology Disclosure: Atmospheric water harvesting heat exchanger geometry.
  2. Meggers, Forrest (2021). Technology Disclosure Atmospheric Longwave and shortwave combined radiant surface scanning apparatus for outdoor radiant field evaluation.

 Updated: November 2022


  1. Guo, Hongshan. 2019. “Energy Delivery Reconditioned for Thermal Comfort.” Doctoral Dissertation, Princeton University. https://dataspace.princeton.edu/handle/88435/dsp01ng451m386.
  2. Aviv, Dorit. 2020. “Design for Heat Transfer: Formal and Material Strategies to Leverage Thermodynamics in the Built Environment.” Doctoral Dissertation, Princeton University. https://dataspace.princeton.edu/handle/88435/dsp0147429d05c.
  3. Teitelbaum, Eric (2020). Design with Comfort: A Systems and Materials Approach to Expanded Psychrometrics. Doctoral Dissertation. Princeton University School of Architecture. Advisor: Forrest Meggers. Web: https://collaborate.princeton.edu/en/publications/design-with-comfort-expanding-the-psychrometric-chart-with-radiat

Updated: November 2022

Additional Resources


Forrest Meggers, PhD – Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor
School of Architecture and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
Princeton University
Voice: (609) 258-7831
Email: fmeggers at princeton.edu


In 2013 Dr. Forrest Meggers came to Princeton jointly appointed in the School of Architecture and the new Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment. He was previously in Singapore as Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Architecture at the National University of Singapore where he had traveled initially as a senior researcher and research module coordinator in the Singapore-ETH Centre’s Future Cities Laboratory.  He has degrees from Mechanical Engineering (BSE), Environmental Engineering (MS), and Architecture (Dr sc.). His fields of knowledge include building systems design and integration; sustainable systems; renewable energy; optimization of energy systems; exergy analysis; geothermal; seasonal energy storage; low temp hybrid solar; building materials; thermodynamics and heat transfer; and heat pumps.  In Singapore he has researched new low exergy building systems for the tropics where as the Low Exergy Module Coordinator he led the research of 5 PhD students and built and transported a novel building laboratory, BubbleZERO from Zurich to Singapore.  Previously in Zurich, Switzerland he worked as a Researcher for the Building Systems Group where he received his PhD in the Dept. of Architecture at the ETH Zurich. He also directed research on sustainable systems for the president of the ETH Board. Originally a native of Iowa, Forrest worked on many sustainability projects at the University of Iowa, and worked with Jim Hansen, renowned climatologist at Columbia University and director of NASA GISS, as a Researcher on US Building Stock CO2 emissions. Through all his international and research experiences he always prides himself as an Iowan and a bicycle mechanic.

Current research areas:

  • Building systems thinking – linking operation of energy systems and building operation to architectural processes to facilitate more informed design (3 for 2 project, BubbleZERO, IEA EBC Annex 64)
  • Radiant heating and cooling systems – Activating surfaces and geometries to add/remove heat from spaces through more effective/comfortable radiant heat transfer (Beyond Shading, Thermoheliodome, Radiant Umbrella)
  • Geothermal and heat source/sink optimization – Leveraging thermal gradients in ground and other phenomena to drastically reduce the effort needed to shift heat in and out of buildings (IEA EBC Annex 64, Campus as a Lab)
  • Low exergy air conditioning – Designing and studying air systems that minimize temperature gradients and exergy (utilizable energy) needed to condition air, particularly for dehumidification (Desiccant systems, Campus as a Lab)

Marilys Nepomechie, PhD – Co-Investigator

Professor, Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives
Florida International University
Voice: (305) 348-1887
Email: nepomech@fiu.edu

Hongshan Guo – Graduate Student

Princeton University
Email: hongshan@princeton.edu


Eric Teitelbaum – Graduate Student

Princeton University
Email: eteitelb@princeton.edu