SIAM News will feature two lead articles that are very relevant to the themes of Math of Planet Earth. One, by writer Dana Mackenzie, is about mathematical modeling of traffic flows; the other, by writer Barry Cipra, is about reducing energy consumption in buildings.

Based on a talk by John Burns of Virginia Tech, this second article describes some of the mathematical challenges in increasing energy efficiency in modern commercial buildings. Why is this an important problem? According to the article, “buildings consume an enormous amount of energy,” accounting “for roughly 39% of total U.S. energy consumption.” In his talk, Burns brought home this point in a vivid way. A 70% reduction in energy consumption by residential and commercial buildings “would be equivalent to eliminating the entire U.S. transportation system.”

The article by Cipra discusses the mathematical challenges; as it quotes Burns – “buildings are complex, multi-scale, nonlinear, infinite-dimensional systems with hundreds of components that call for modeling, control, optimization,….” It further discusses modeling buildings for design and control.

To appear in the November issue of SIAM News.