In 1987, a group of building experts from 15 countries, under the aegis of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, toured 45 commercial buildings worldwide to investigate what kinds of building systems reduced energy consumption most effectively, which failed to do so, and why.
Among the participants were two German engineers, Matthias Schuler and Thomas Auer, who, according to Schuler, came away from the project with two overriding ideas. The first was that the most energy-efficient buildings they studied had been designed from the start with the target of reducing energy consumption--holistically, not as an afterthought.
The second grand idea was that the "conversation" between architects and engineers was halting, at best. "Engineers think in numbers, architects think in pictures," Schuler recalls. "There was a need for a moderator"--an entity that would iterate ideas back and forth between members of the Building Team to enable them to integrate the physical elements of any building project to produce the optimal solution.
From that exercise was born, in 1992, Transsolar Climate Engineering. Based in Stuttgart. Munich, and New York, the 46-employee energy design consultancy has served as moderator and climate engineer for such pacesetting projects as the Hochtief Prisma office building (Frankfurt-am-Main), the Mineral Bath in Bad Elster, the Federal Office Building (Berlin), Deutsche Post Tower (Bonn), the Lavin-Bernick Center for Student Life (Tulane University), the New Bangkok...