Exploration tooL for Sustainable Architecture (ELSA)

In order to embrace carbon and energy parameters from the early stages of project, the Buidlgin2050 group has settled a design assistance tool called ELSA.

On the basis of an architectural intention, it enables the designers to manage a limited “carbon and energy budget”, enforced for the building’s construction.
The tool uses a database of several thousands of conception alternatives, with their respective performances, allowing an early integration of environmental specifications in the design process.
Throughout the project’s materialization decisions, the incompatible options are eliminated, guiding the designer through his successive choices.

To face climate change, GHG emission targets will be set worldwide for the built environment, one of its major contributors. As a result, Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) will become an important driver in the building design stakeholders’ decisions, for increasing the operating performance while minimizing embodied impacts. However, the integration of LCA to the design process adds a high degree of complexity (05-B3). In addition, it allows assessing the environmental
performance but does not help finding
design alternatives. New techniques such as design solutions exploration methods are promising tools to understand general performance trends, and to increase the usability of the results,but have not been applied to LCA so far. One of the challenges to face is that – due to the high number of parameters involved in GHG emission assessment in buildings – it is currently impossible to investigate all the design solutions in a reasonable computational time.

Adopted approach for the SLB research program on early stage LCA
A unique exploration method enabling to integrate lifecycle performance at early design stages has been developed through this research program and translated into an operating prototype named ELSA, which stands for Exploration tooL for Sustainable Architecture (elsa.epfl.ch).
This was made possible through an original combination of different techniques, developed towards this end: a variation of analytical target cascading methodology, which needed to be adapted to the building scale (01-D), parametric simulations (05-B4) and sensitivity analyses (05-B6). The proposed approach aims to appraise design alternatives instantaneously by highlighting the environmental consequences of architectural choices using specific data visualization techniques (05-B7).

For further details, see publications below

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Human-IST, University of Fribourg


 State of Fribourg – Switzerland

Surveying the environmental life-cycle performance assessments: Practice and context at early building design stages

T. Jusselme; E. Rey; M. Andersen 

Sustainable Cities and Society. 2020-01-01. Vol. 52, p. 101879. DOI : 10.1016/j.scs.2019.101879.

A data-driven approach for lifecycle performance

T. Jusselme; E. Hoxha; S. Cozza; R. Tuor; R. Zülli et al. 

EXPLORING / Research-driven Building Design. Towards 2050; Zürich: Park Books, 2019. p. 276.

Design guidance from a Data-Driven LCA-Based Design method and tool prototype

T. Jusselme; P. Antunes Fernandes; E. Rey; M. Andersen 

2019. 16th International Conference of the “International Building Performance Simulation Association” (IBPSA) Building Simulation, Rome, Italy, September 2-4, 2019. p. 1334-1341. DOI : 10.26868/25222708.2019.210403.

Energy efficiency trends in European buildings

T. Jusselme 

CEPT University, Ahmedabad, 2018-12-19.

Findings from a survey on the current use of life-cycle assessment in building design

T. Jusselme; E. Rey; M. Andersen 

2018-12-10. PLEA 2018 – Smart and Healthy within the 2-degree Limit, Hong-Kong, December 10-12, 2018.

Usability assessment of building performance simulation tools: a pilot study

S. Cozza; T. Jusselme; M. Andersen 

2018-09-12. Second International Conference for Sustainable Design of the Built Environment – SDBE 2018, September 12-13, 2018.

Integrating hourly life-cycle energy and carbon emissions of energy supply in buildings

D. Vuarnoz; S. Cozza; T. Jusselme; G. Magnin; T. Schafer et al. 

Sustainable Cities and Society. 2018-08-29. num. 43, p. 305-316. DOI : 10.1016/j.scs.2018.08.026.

An integrative approach for embodied energy: Towards an LCA-based data-driven design method

T. Jusselme; E. Rey; M. Andersen 

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 2018-02-27. Vol. 88, p. 123-132. DOI : 10.1016/j.rser.2018.02.036.

Visualization techniques for heterogeneous and multidimensional simulated building performance data sets

T. Jusselme; R. Tuor; D. Lalanne; E. Rey; M. Andersen 

2017. SDBE 2017 – International Conference for Sustainable Design of the Built Environment, London – UK, December 20-21, 2017. p. 971-982.

Smart Living Building Research Program – Executive Summary

T. Jusselme; A. Brambilla; V. Costa Grisel; S. Cozza; E. Hoxha et al. 


Building 2050 – Scientific concept and transition to the experimental phase

T. Jusselme; A. Brambilla; E. Hoxha; Y. Jiang; D. Vuarnoz 


Graphical representation of the smart living building research program

A. Poncety; A. Brambilla; E. Hoxha; D. Vuarnoz; S. Cozza et al. 

Building2050 Scientific Workshop, Gruyères, Switzerland, October 2016.

Towards a pre-design method for low carbon architectural strategies

T. Jusselme; S. Cozza; E. Hoxha; A. Brambilla; F. Evequoz et al. 

2016. PLEA2016, Los Angeles, USA, July 11-13, 2016.

Building 2050 – Research program

T. Jusselme 


Building 2050 – State-of-the-arts and preliminary guidelines

T. Jusselme; A. Brambilla; E. Hoxha; Y. Jiang; D. Vuarnoz 


Du projet de recherche à la construction du smart living building

T. Jusselme; A. Brambilla; S. Cozza; E. Hoxha; M. Jiang et al. 

Table ronde : du projet de recherche à la construction du smart living building, Fribourg, Suisse, 2 octobre 2015.