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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
VBF021 - Building physics, advanced course
Byggnadsfysik fortsättningskurs
Syllabus adopted 2019-02-18 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPSEB
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Pass with distinction (5), Pass with credit (4), Pass (3), Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Teaching language: English
Application code: 22118
Open for exchange students: Yes
Block schedule: A

Module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0107 Examination 7,5c Grading: TH   7,5c   Contact examiner,  Contact examiner,  Contact examiner

In programs



Angela Sasic Kalagasidis

  Go to Course Homepage


General entry requirements for Master's level (second cycle)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Specific entry requirements

English 6 (or by other approved means with the equivalent proficiency level)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Course specific prerequisites

Basic course in building physics and building services, or similar. Knowledge of transient heat and mass transfer in porous media is desirable (corresponding to the syllabus of BOM145 Heat and moisture engineering or BOM285 Building performance: Design and assessment).



With buildings using a substantial part of the energy worldwide, and energy use being the major contributor to global warming, the design of low energy buildings with high level of comfort and durability is a fully accountable action.

The principles behind energy efficiency and moisture safety in buildings are the main subjects of building physics. They are introduced in the second year of the Civil Engineering programme at Chalmers, together with the related processes of heat and mass transfer in buildings in stationary conditions.

This course provides you with the knowledge about how buildings store thermal energy and buffer moisture in real situations, i.e. under varying indoor and outdoor conditions, and how natural ventilation works. The purpose is to learn to adequately combine these features in order to optimize the building's performance in a given environment and minimize the potential of extreme energy use. You will be guided through different modelling techniques and technical solutions that describe and support these processes. These will be examined both independently and in the manner in which they interact and affect one another.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

Comprehend needs and conditions, and describe principles for:
  • thermal energy storage in buildings and in the ground
  • moisture buffering in indoor environment
  • natural ventilation of buildings
Conduct modeling, by the means of simplified analytical and numerical models, of:
  • transient heat storage and moisture buffering in buildings
  • transient heat storage in the ground
  • long-wave heat exchange in an enclosure
  • air flow and air pressure in a building in respect to the building's air tightness
Evaluate effects of:
  • building's thermal and moisture inertia on heating / cooling power demands
  • long-wave radiation on the thermal comfort in a room
  • air tightness of the building envelope on indoor air pressure
Apply scientifically verified numerical methods for:
  • practical design of floor heating systems
  • evaluation of transient heat loss from a building to the ground
Demonstrate ability to:
  • combine studied models when designing/assessing a new building
  • identify cause-effect relations from an incomplete information
  • solve open problems


Topics include: thermal time constant of a building; periodic penetration depth; free-running indoor air temperature; temperature variations in an undisturbed ground; thermal pillow below a building; heat extraction/storage from the ground by air channels and water pipes; moisture inertia of ventilated spaces; vapour open/closed surfaces; moisture management in horizontal roofs; long-wave radiation exchange in an enclosure; radiosity; thermal imaging with infrared camera; view factors; operative temperature; air mass balance at natural and uncontrolled ventilation of buildings; flow characteristics of openings and leakages; calculation of indoor air pressure.

Analytical models include: differential equation for transient heat and mass balance in a building; lumped models; solutions for step and periodic response; quasi steady-state thermal networks.

Computer models in Comsol and Simulink: 2D model of a floor slab on the ground, with adjoining thermal bridge; 2D model of a floor heating system.


The course contains the following learning activities: the theory of heat, air and moisture transfer processes and the methods on how to construct models from heat and mass balance equations, empirical relations and flow models are presented during lectures. Based on that, open problems are formulated and models are constructed and solved during classes. Calculation exercises are mixed with lectures, i.e. there are no scheduled exercises.

Deeper understanding of the assumptions made in theoretical models and improving skills in using computer programmes on practical problems are exercised through computer based assignments. Group work is allowed.

State-of-the-art building physical criteria for designing building envelopes are presented and discussed with specialists in the field. Topics may vary depending on the current development.

Learning process is initiated and assured through a set of home assignments (usually five to six, one per week) with a detailed feedback from the teacher. Individual work only.


Lecture notes, calculation exercises and supplementary material (illustrations) are distributed through the course home page. C-E Hagentoft: Introduction to Building Physics, Studentlitteratur, Lund, 2001 or similar textbook in heat and mass transfer. 

Examination including compulsory elements

Home exam - an individual written examination between 8-16 hours, which can be done at home or elsewhere. Problems are handed-out at 8 am at the school or by e-mail. Solutions must be handed in at 16 hours the same day, at latest.

Page manager Published: Thu 04 Feb 2021.