Group photo captured by a drone of students and faculty in the High Performance Building Lab, all standing 6-feet apart in the Hinman Courtyard.

High Performance Building Lab

High Performance Building Lab

The High Performance Building Lab (HPBL) is a convergent research group housed in the School of Architecture, College of Design at Georgia Tech. Our goal is to disruptively transform design analysis of existing and new energy flows, in and in-between buildings. We operate at the scale of architecture, urban design and planning practices through applied research, and by developing sustainable design workflows and metrics. The HPBL attracts qualified students with a background in architecture, design and technology, and/or engineering. The focus is on the development and application of advanced design technology for the built environment. Students take basic courses in architecture, energy and the environment, as well as electives in engineering disciplines, along with courses that apply these subjects to buildings. We aim to continuously contribute to the rigorous exploration of sustainability in architecture and inventing the next state-of-the-art in building technology.

Research and Projects

Drone-generated building envelope model.


Developing advanced building envelope diagnostics and modeling using computer-vision drones.
Energy use from buildings in a city

Community Energy

A planning project brings together residents and stakeholders to develop a Community Energy program.
Chart representing greenhouse gas emissions in Syracuse.

Comfortable and Walkable Cities

This project studies the feasibility of achieving reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the City of Syracuse.

Rakha, T., & El Kontar, R. (2019). Community energy by design: A simulation-based design workflow using measured data clustering to calibrate Urban Building Energy Models (UBEMs). Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 46(8), 1517-1533.

El Kontar, R., & Rakha, T. (2018). Profiling Occupancy Patterns to Calibrate Urban Building Energy Models (UBEMs) Using Measured Data Clustering. Technology| Architecture+ Design, 2(2), 206-217.

Rakha, T., & Gorodetsky, A. (2018). Review of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) applications in the built environment: Towards automated building inspection procedures using drones. Automation in Construction, 93, 252-264.

Rakha, T., Liberty, A., Gorodetsky, A., Kakillioglu, B., & Velipasalar, S. (2018). Heat Mapping Drones: An Autonomous Computer-Vision-Based Procedure for Building Envelope Inspection Using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Technology| Architecture+ Design, 2(1), 30-44.

El Masri, Y and Rakha, T. (2020) “Review of Non-Destructive Techniques (NDTs) for Building Diagnostic Inspections” In Proceedings of the 2020 Building Performance Analysis Conference and SimBuild, 29 September – 01 October, Chicago: USA (Virtual).

Panagoulia, E. and Rakha, T. (2020) “Performance Analytics through Building Information Modelling (BIM) in Retrofitting Design: Towards a Graph-based Data-to-Decisions Framework” In Proceedings of In Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture (PLEA), 1-3 September, A Coruña: Spain (Virtual).

Pilet, T. and Rakha, T. (2020) “A Building Envelope Characterization Workflow for In-Situ Thermal Performance Assessment” In Proceedings of the 2020 Building Performance Analysis Conference and SimBuild, 29 September – 01 October, Chicago: USA (Virtual).

Sherif, T. and Rakha, T. (2020) “Simulating False Sensing Impacts for Diverse Occupancy Patterns and Behaviors on Heating and Cooling Energy Consumption in US Residential Buildings.” In Proceedings of the 2020 Building Performance Analysis Conference and SimBuild, 29 September – 01 October, Chicago: USA (Virtual).

Teaching: A Process of Learning by Doing

Learning is the essence of advancement, and for the training of built environment students in advanced environmental systems and studios the HPBL envisions a classroom that is neither static nor unidirectional; it is an accessible, interactive and open sourced “living lab.” We employ state-of-the-art simulation tools we develop and use in research to be used by students as a means for understanding building performance. Attending a research university, such as Georgia Tech, gives the students a chance to be at the heart of knowledge as it unfolds, and that is why we aim to integrate research concerns into courses: to enrich the process of learning, and put students at the forefront of discovery.

The HPBL participates in variety of studios, courses and seminars at Georgia Tech, including courses such as:

  • Environmental Systems I
  • Building Physics Modeling
  • Building Simulation in Design Practice
  • Inquiry in Building Performance
  • Design + Research Studio



Current and past students in the HPBL have been typically enrolled in the MS and PhD programs in Architecture at Georgia Tech. However, research synergies with the BSArch, MArch and MSUD can be (and are continuously) established. For information about joining the HPBL, please contact the lab director.


Tarek Rakha headshot

Tarek Rakha, Ph.D., Lab Director

Ph.D. Students and Post-Doctoral Associates

Headshot of Kaiwen Chen

Kaiwen Chen, Ph.D.

Yasser El Masri

Yasser El Masri, M.S.

Zachary Lancaster

Zachary Lancaster, MCRP

Eleanna Panagoulia

Eleanna Panagoulia, M.Arch

Tyler Pilet

Tyler Pilet, BSME

M.S. and B.S. in Architecture Students

Hala Alfalih

Hala Alfalih, B.Arch

Jayati Chhabra

Jayati Chhabra, B.Arch

Nourhan El Sayed

Nourhan El Sayed, B.S. in Architecture

Erin Heidelberger

Erin Heidelberger, B.Arch

Headshot of Riwayat Katia.

Riwayat Katia, B.S. in Architecture Student

Vitor Leite

Vitor Leite, BS CEE

Madison Prince

Madison Prince, B.Arch

Deva Shree Saini

Deva Shree Saini, B.Arch

Recent Alumni

Tarek Sherif

Tarek Sherif, M.S.

HPBL in the News

Dr. Rakha and students with a drone in the Hinman Courtyard

HPBL Awarded $1.4 Million by U.S. DOE

Our research team will develop drone-based diagnostics technology in a three-year project called AirBEM.
Student architectural model

Students Win Competition

Our architecture students won two awards in the international HERE+NOW competition, first prize and honorable mention.
SimAUD Conference group photo in front of the John and Joyce Caddell Building.

Research Community Celebrates Simulation

The SimAUD conference returned to the United States and was hosted at Georgia Tech.
Student team from Georgia Tech standing in front of the NREL sign after the Department of Energy's Solar Decathalon in Colorado.

Tech Team Wins Prize in DoE's Solar Decathlon

An interdisciplinary Tech team won first place in the net-zero energy, urban single-family home category at the event.
SimAUD 2019 promotion including the words SimAUD 2019 and a skyline represented on a bar graph.

Built Environment Experts Assemble

Built environment experts from across the globe will be on campus April 7 – 9, 2019 for the 10th annual SimAUD conference.

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