Physics for Building Environments

Intended Learning Outcomes

This 3-day short course covers the physics of heat, light, and sound. It aims to lay the foundation for your study of building science in the upcoming semester.

At the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Point out the relation between physics and building science.
  2. Explain the scientific nature and properties of heat, light, and sound.
  3. Illustrate the practical use of the physics of heat, light, and sound in building science.

Indicative Contents

Day 1: Sound

Session 0: Introduction

  • Comfort, health, and safety considerations of building design
  • How to make your learning more effective and less painful
  • How to get the most out of this short course

Session 1.1: Energy

  • What is energy?
  • Properties of energy: conservation, conversion, storage, and transmission
  • Units of energy
  • Power

Session 1.2: Nature of Sound

  • Wave nature of sound
  • Speed of sound in different media
  • Sound pitch and loudness
  • Audible frequency range

Session 1.3: Wave Properties of Sound

  • Reflection
  • Refraction
  • Diffraction and interference
  • Absorption and insulation
  • Resonance and natural frequency

Session 1.4: Measurement of Sound

  • Concepts of sound power, intensity, and pressure
  • Decibels and sound levels

Day 2: Light

Session 2.1: Nature of Light

  • Light as wave vs. light as particle
  • Speed of light
  • Electromagnetic spectrum
  • Colors and color vision

Session 2.2: Wave Properties of Light

  • Reflection and mirrors (concave and convex)
  • Refraction and optical lens (concave and convex)
  • Total internal reflection
  • Diffraction and interference
  • Absorption and emission

Session 2.3: Light Sources

  • Principles and properties of incandescent lamps, discharge lamps, and LEDs
  • Color temperature

Session 2.4: Measurement of Light

  • Concepts of luminous intensity, luminous flux, illuminance, and luminance
  • Comparing sound wave and light wave

Day 3: Heat

Session 3.1: Temperature

  • Temperature and its units
  • Thermometers

Session 3.2: The Physics of Heat

  • Kinetic Theory of Matters
  • Ideal gas law
  • Heat pumps
  • Kinetic energy of molecules
  • Heat as energy transfer
  • Heat capacity and specific heat capacity
  • States of matter and latent heat

Session 3.2: Heat Transfer

  • Heat transfer mechanisms: conduction, convection, and radiation
  • Heat current