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Integrated design experiences for energy-efficient housing in Chile

Ernesto Echeverria-Valiente (Universidad de Alcala de Henares, Alcalá de Henares (Madrid), Spain)
Rodrigo Garcia-Alvarado (Universidad del Bio-Bio, Concepcion, Chile)
Flavio Celis-D’Amico (Universidad de Alcala de Henares, Alcalá de Henares (Madrid), Spain)
Gerardo Saelzer-Fuica (Universidad del Bio Bio, Concepcion, Chile)

Construction Innovation

ISSN: 1471-4175

Article publication date: 13 March 2019

Issue publication date: 16 April 2019




This paper aims to review the application of integrated design strategies in several cases of housing in south-central Chile in search of ways to significantly reduce energy loss and demand.


First, seven main design features of energy-efficient buildings in developed countries were identified. Second, these features were reviewed in two professional case studies from architectural practices and two academic exercises on residential design in south-central Chile. In all cases reviewed, characteristics of integrated design were verified to reductions in energy loss and demand. Finally, the procedure implemented was evaluated through surveys of those practitioners responsible for each experience studied.


This process made it possible to highlight four main features of integrated design, namely, pre-established performance goals, interdisciplinary collaboration, regular broad-ranging meetings and the use of performance assessment tools. With these techniques, reductions of more than 50 per cent in the energy requirements of the housing designs were achieved, while safeguarding the functional, aesthetic and economic aspects of the projects.

Research limitations/implications

However, professionals currently working in this field did express their concern regarding responsibility for the design and the time needed to complete the process.

Practical implications

Furthermore, this experience also identified similar modifications made to the design of the houses, which revealed general possibilities for improving energy performance.

Social implications

The conclusions obtained have been exposed in conferences and graduate programmes and applied in two real projects for the benefit of society: first, the improvement of building envelopes in social housing in Temuco; and second, CASA+, a modular, prefabricated and energy efficient house prototype.


This paper carried out a novel review of an integrated design process in housing cases of developing countries, and identified the key features, which improve the environmental performance of dwellings.



This paper was developed as part of the research projects MEL 81100003 “Integrated Design for the Reconstruction of Energy-efficiency Housing” and Fondecyt 1171108, both developed by the University of the Bío-Bío (Concepción, Chile) with support from the ACEE (Chilean Agency for Energy Efficiency) and CONICYT (National Agency for Scientific and Technological Research). The authors would especially like to thank both the professionals and the students who voluntarily agreed to participate in the case studies.


Echeverria-Valiente, E., Garcia-Alvarado, R., Celis-D’Amico, F. and Saelzer-Fuica, G. (2019), "Integrated design experiences for energy-efficient housing in Chile", Construction Innovation, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 236-255.



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