2019 Request for Research concept Briefs

Crane over buildings

Facade System Gaps, Barriers, and Needs Assessment

Submissions due Friday, November 15, 2019.

The Facade Tectonics Institute (FTI) is a start-up nonprofit with a unique mission and member base. We promote a visionary, yet pragmatic and actionable, agenda that is issue-oriented, not product- or business-driven, to dramatically enhance facade solutions for the nation’s building stock. You can read more about FTI and our vision and mission.

The FTI Research Committee is requesting Research Concept Briefs describing a team and approach for evaluating industry needs and challenges surrounding four key topic areas in which FTI has identified a need to accelerate innovation. The proposed research will clearly identify knowledge gaps and barriers such as technological, economic, regulatory, cultural, and other challenges that are hindering progress and advancements. The final product will include a technical report on the research conducted, presenting solutions to removing or overcoming these barriers and filling knowledge gaps.

The goal of the research is (1) to increase industry transparency regarding reasons for slow innovation, and by doing so, spur others to action, and (2) to identify and prioritize future topic areas in which FTI may catalyze deeper research. Submitters are encouraged to form interdisciplinary research teams with the background necessary to fully explore the gaps, barriers and needs. Teams may include architects, design engineers, economics or business experts, manufacturing experts, and construction experts. Academic and industry partnerships are strongly encouraged, as is graduate student and young professional involvement.

Submitters will describe their proposed methodology, team, and budget for evaluating one of the four key topics areas. FTI will evaluate the concept briefs and select one (or more) responding team that best meets our criteria. FTI will then solicit funding on behalf of the team from sponsors (industry, government, or other non-profits) in addition to contributing some direct funding. FTI intends to use its unique cross-industry position to leverage industry funding in a way that individual teams would not be able to. We anticipate project budgets will range $40,000 - $100,000 with project durations of four to 12 months.

After funding and scope are finalized the research project will begin [SS5] [EO6] . FTI will provide guidance and feedback throughout the research project and will widely promote the final conclusions, including credit [SS7] provided to the research team.

Topic Areas

The four key topic areas are:

  1. Industry standards, especially for interface/compatibility between various facade components. This may include various components of different facade system types, varying broadly from rainscreen cladding attachment to curtain walls to facade automation components. Why do such standards not exist? What barriers (e.g., product liability) need to be overcome? What would the value be in creating such standards? What initial steps might be taken to change the status quo?
  2. Integrated facade design and delivery. Integrated facade design and delivery is generally believed to increase quality while reducing both risk and costs. Why has its use not accelerated? What specific changes in practice, and design methods and/or tools might increase use?
  3. Calculation of embodied carbon. The facade is a major building system accounting for a large portion of its embodied carbon, but it remains difficult to reasonably estimate embodied carbon for a facade of any complexity. What is best practice today and what are the gaps? What is the best first step(s) to improve this? What information would be most useful for practitioners seeking to reduce embodied carbon via facade system choices?
  4. Health, wellness, and productivity. There is a significant body of research relating to the positive impacts of facade-related design decisions (daylight, view, natural ventilation, etc.) on health, wellness, and productivity. Although owner interest in this topic is growing, practitioners struggle to translate this work into specific design responses and to make tangible arguments (such as economic payback) for owners. What is necessary for health, wellness, and productivity to be better prioritized in facade decision-making? Is more research required to convince designers of its importance, does the information need to be summarized more clearly, or are new or improved tools necessary?

Submission Requirements

A complete application must be submitted electronically (PDF) using an 8.5”x 11” portrait format, single-spaced text with diagrams or figures as appropriate, up to 6 pages total. Please include the following:

  • Project Title
  • Area of Interest (the title of the topic of interested)
  • Abstract: Summarize the project concept, outcomes and methodology (approximately 300 words)
  • Summary of the Projected Outcomes: Be specific on how your research will address some of the industry gaps mentioned in the brief (approximately 200 words).
  • Scope of Work: Describe the methodology you intend to utilize for your research. Itemize the scope of work into actionable, focused tasks that lead to the planned outcomes (approximately 1,000 words).
  • Budget: Provide an estimate of the research cost, and itemize the cost according to the tasks identified in your scope of work and work effort of those contributing. The attached format is provided as an example; use this format or your own format with similar level of detail and information. Indicate any cost you or existing partners can contribute, if possible.
  • Timeline: Assign a timeline to your proposed research. Include a Gantt chart if necessary.
  • Team: List the Principal Investigator (PI) and individual team members who will conduct the actual work and the primary proposing institution[SS15]. Describe relevant experience and resources that both the individuals and their affiliated institutions or firms bring to the team. Describe which team members will perform which components of the research (approximately 500 words).
  • Contact Information: Provide email address, phone number, and physical address for the Principal Investigator and for the business manager.

Submissions should be emailed as single pdf no larger than 10 MB to research@facadetectonics.org by Friday, November 15, 2019.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be evaluated by the FTI Research committee (members who submit applications must recuse themselves from the jury), which will make a final recommendation to the FTI Board of Directors. The successful proposal will be selected based on:

  • Potential to successfully identify gaps, barriers, and needs in one of the four focus areas: Demonstrated understanding of the question being asked and clarity of methodology. (40%)
  • Strength of team: Relevant experience and diversity of knowledge and skill in order to comprehensively address the topic. (30%)
  • Funding potential and value: Appropriateness of budget relative to potential to catalyze change in the industry (30%)


FTI will aim to select a winning concept brief within one month of the submission deadline. Telephone interviews or additional supplementary information may be requested during the evaluation process. After selection, FTI will work with the selected team to identify funding partners, with the goal of securing funding and beginning the project before the end of 2019.

FTI reserves the right to not select any team, select multiple teams, or propose alternative team combinations. FTI is not responsible for team costs associated with preparing the concept brief.

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