Summer School «Sustainable Construction – From Traditions To Innovations»

The summer school «Sustainable Construction» is organized by the Faculty of Civil Engineering and International Relations Department of RTU in cooperation with the Department of Civil Engineering (DICIV) and the Department of Information and Electric Engineering and Applied Mathemathics (DIEM) of the University of Salerno (UNISA), and enterprise «Knauf».

August 19–30 Riga Latvia

«Sustainability» is one of the world’s most talked about but least understood words. Its meaning is often clouded by differing interpretations and by a tendency for the subject to be treated superficially. Traditionally the concept of sustainability embraces the preservation of the environment, as well as critical development-related issues such as the efficient use of resources, continual social progress, stable economic growth, and the eradication of poverty.

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Within the summer school You will attend lectures of scientists in the fields of civil engineering, architecture and physics. Seminars will cover topics like preparation of scientific publications and practical implementation of sustainable construction principles. You will visit several enterprises and construction projects, for example, National Library of Latvia, ongoing projects in Riga Technical University (RTU) Campus and industrial enterprises like «Knauf», which is one of the world's leading manufacturers of lightweight building products and systems, and Latvian Wood Construction Cluster.

In addition, interdisciplinary teams will be formed to work with projects. Informal discussions will be held about the modern issues of formation in the field of sustainable construction, civil engineering and physics. The summer school is aimed to provide new generation of participants with the ability to develop interdisciplinary thinking.


Sustainable Construction 2018 (brochure)


Sustainable construction principles

  • Sustainable architecture
  • Sustainability in seismic-resistant constructions
  • Sustainable solutions of engineering communications

Building materials for sustainable construction

  • Materials acoustic performance
  • Innovative materials from radioactive products

Practical implementation of sustainable construction principles

  • Sustainability concept in historical buildings
  • Ongoing sustainable projects in RTU Campus
  • Sustainable solutions in Nacional Library of Latvia
  • Sustainable construction principles of «Knauf»
  • Sustainable solutions in Latvian Wood Construction Cluster
  • Preparation of scientific publications
Study credits

Certificates of Further Education of Riga Technical University and 6 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credit points will be awarded upon completion of the program.

Your profile
  • Education background
    • Undergraduate student (finished at least one year of studies by the time the summer school starts)
    • Postgraduate student
  • You are familiar with
    • Mathematical calculus
    • General physics
    • Basics of building materials and structures
  • Your abilities
    • Speak fluent English
    • Appreciate the experience of learning from and working with qualified professionals
    • You are a creative person
    • Looking for added value content
Participation fee

The participation fee covering registration, tuition, accommodation in the student hostel of RTU, meals (breakfast and lunch) and the social program is EUR 700. The participants will have to cover their travel expenses and health insurance. Based on the evaluation of the application documents, participant with the most outstanding results will receive a discount for covering participation fee.


The deadline for submitting the application is May 18, 2018

When applying, please enclose the following documents in English:

For all applicants:

For those who apply for a partial scholarship:

  • Certified copies of higher education institution diploma supplement (for graduates);
  • Transcript of records for the whole study period at university (for current students);
  • One letter of recommendation.

Results of the evaluation will be announced to each individual by 1 June 2018.

International Relations Department of RTU will be happy to answer all questions concerning organizational matters, which might occur before the summer school starts or during its course. In case of doubts, do not hesitate to contact Mr. Eriks Badamsins via email or phone +371 67089790.


Gianvittorio Rizzano, Professor in Structural Engineering (Italy)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – Innovative solution for sustainable steel structures free from damage after severe earthquake

It is well known that the different strategies for the design of seismic-resistant structures can be framed in view of energy balance. According to the traditional strategy for the seismic design of building structures, in case of frequent and occasional seismic events whose return period is comparable with the life cycle of structures, the earthquake input energy has to be completely dissipated by means of viscous damping. Therefore, the hysteretic energy is equal to zero because, for such seismic events, the structure has to be designed to remain in elastic range. Conversely, in case of rare and very rare seismic events whose return period is about 500 years and even more, most of the earthquake input energy is dissipated by hysteresis, but leading to severe plastic excursions and related structural damage. Such structural damage has to be compatible with the ductility and the energy dissipation capacity of structures, because, even though structural damage is accepted, collapse prevention has to be assured and the safeguard of human lives has to be guaranteed.

In order to reduce the main drawback of the traditional design strategy, i.e. the occurrence of structural damage, a new design strategy will be examined in the lecture which is represented by steel frames equipped with FREEDAM connections, «Free From Damage Connections», in which friction dampers are located at beam-to-column joint in corrispondence of the bottom flange level. This innovative structural solution is able to withstand without any damage not only frequent and occasional seismic events, but also destructive earthquakes such as those corresponding to rare and very rare events, providing a significant benefit not only in terms of initial cost and structural performance, but also in terms of sustainability due to the fact that all the structural parts do not undergo to any damage after an earthquake. In the lecture, the main sustainability assessment tools are applied comparing the traditional solutions and the innovative ones, accounting for economic aspect by means of cost/benefit analysis, environmental aspect by means of life-cycle analysis and social aspect by means of the seismic risk analysis.

More about Prof. Gianvittorio Rizzano

Federica Ribera, Professor in Building Technology (Italy)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – The Accessibility in Buildings of Historical and Architectural Value. Budgets and Perspectives

The definition of sustainability for historical buildings is not univocal but it includes many meanings, for which, in general, it’s understood as a synthesis between building quality and social vitality. One of the faces of this vast issue is represented by the renewed needs for accessibility to particular architectural value complexes, whose approach presupposes a wide reflection that combines the requirements of the conservation with those of its use for a wider audience possible. This requirement, therefore, becomes transversal in the design, involving all the steps starting from the preliminary studies to the finishes and furniture chosen.

The intervention on historic buildings, belonging to epochs in which accessibility’s needs and standards were very different from the current ones, raises many questions about the transformations and the inevitable adaptations in relation to the evolution of customs and the changing needs of the modernity.

In this context, in order to avoid reducing the testimonial and artistic value that the historical building transmits, it’s necessary a high design quality of all the interventions, so that it can create a profitable coexistence between the historical architectures and the new contemporary languages, in a fruitful dialogue between «ancient and modern».

By starting from the definitions of accessibility, also according to the recent European regulations, with particular reference to historical sites and towns, the main problems regarding the project for overcoming architectural barriers will be treated, considered as a privileged instrument to achieve the safeguard of the good, because its continuous use guarantees a constant maintenance and, therefore, its conservation. Through numerous case studies, the purpose is to demonstrate the urgency of living in the historical architecture in a comfortable way, continuing, without forcing and distorting, to perceive the history that has passed on.

More about Prof. Federica Ribera 

Michele Guida, Professor in Experimental Physics (Italy)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – Natural radioactivity and innovative materials from radioactive products

To avoid the use of toxic building materials is one of the principles of sustainable construction. Building materials, currently used in residential buildings, can be, naturally, a source of toxic emissions dangerous for human health as those one related to Radon. Moreover, the depletion of energy resources and raw materials stimulated the reuse of residues containing enhanced concentrations of natural radionuclides (NORM) in tailor-made building materials in the construction sector. For this reason, when using those materials, it is crucial to consider the impact on building occupants’ health in terms of exposure and indoor air quality.

Lecture deals with the basic principles on natural radioactivity, the effects on human health and the evaluation of gamma and alpha doses due to natural radioactivity of building materials.

More about Prof. Michele Guida

Enrico Sicignano, Professor in Building Technology (Italy)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – Sustainable Architecture in Argentina, between Tradition and Innovation

Currently the architecture that deals with the climate problem is called in different ways: «solar, bioclimatic, ecological, etc.» architecture. This architecture takes into account location and climate; uses the knowledge about materials and ways of construction. It applies them properly to take advantage of physical and thermal phenomena, so that to get comfort and sustainability. The construction sector consumes 60% of global energy, 50% of drinking water and it’s responsible for 37% of the planet’s carbon emissions, the main cause of global warming. Gradual change is no longer an option, it is necessary to stop this trend and decide to be truly regenerative.

This essay focuses the new environmental challenges and the latest certifications for the specific territory of Argentina. They have to face variables factors corresponding to the diversity of existing climates in Argentina from North to South. The motto is «Designing according to the climate». It enhances and analyzes the successes and the knowledge found in the origins of Architecture, that were developed for ages in each region, with a particular climate from which to defend itself, with the raw materials available. Today these criteria are often abandoned. The proposal is to change the tendency and to use technology as a mean to correct basic design errors and to take advantage of it as a fundamental tool. With the implementation of BIM and the use of software such as Revit, different alternatives are evaluated to get a project, optimal in terms of energy (orientation, passive air conditioning systems, generation of renewable energy in situ, etc.), consumption and reuse of water, carbon emissions, local materials and environmental quality; in particular the main research is addressed for the temperate of mountain climate of the province of Córdoba, developed in the Master degree thesis in Building Engineering and Architecture by Jazmin Lopez Becker.

More about Prof. Enrico Sicignano  

Arturs Lešinskis Prof., Dr. sc. ing. (Latvia)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – Sustainability of the National Library of Latvia

We shall follow development of the project starting from the architectural sketch and philosophical idea up to work out of the engineering systems. Design of the engineering systems was done by engineering team of HVAC experts from US and Latvia. As a result first installation of the centrifugal chiller in Latvia was done. High energy efficiency of air conditioning systems was reached, by use of adiabatic cooling and river water use for condenser cooling. After the presentation of the lecture visit to the National Library of Latvia and the technical facilities will be organized.

More about Prof., Arturs Lešinskis 

Andris Jakovics, Dr. Phys., Head of the Chair for Electrodynamics and Continuum Mechanics, University of Latvia (Latvia)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – Energy efficiency and sustainability of different building structures in Latvian climate conditions

Testing plant for building structures and systems with 5 small houses was built 2013 in Botanic garden of the University of Latvia. This test houses were equipped with different heating/ ventilation/ cooling systems, including air-air and air-water heat pumps. During 5 years, several specific experiments are realised and monitoring data are collected. In result, the energy efficiency of test houses, thermal comfort conditions inside and sustainability of building structures was analysed. It is planned to visit this test plant, learn more about equipment and measurement systems in use, take part in selected tests. Results of long time monitoring will be characterised and discussed. More information about test plant in

More about Dr. Phys. Andris Jakovics

Anatolijs Borodinecs, Professor of Building Physics (Latvia)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – Buildings envelope design for sustainable construction

Nowadays building envelope is not a passive building element which just minimize a heat flow. Modern building elements allow active control of heat losses and heat gains. Moreover, modern buildings envelopes can be used as a part of building ventilation and air-conditions systems, insuring supply air preheating or precooling.

This presentation is focused on proper selection of building envelope properties, taking into account thermal comfort, heating and cooling load balance as well as environmental impact. General requirements on overall energy efficiency will be presented including modern building heating and cooling loads.  The positive and negative impact on thermal comfort and annual energy consumption of extremely insulated building envelope will be analyzed. During the presentation the embodied energy and selection of environmental friendly construction will be discussed as well.

More about Prof. Anatolijs Borodinecs

Prof. Claudio Guarnaccia, PhD (Italy)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – Acoustics Materials acoustic performance

The basics of applied Acoustics, including general features of interaction between sound waves and materials, will be presented. The absorption and reflection properties of materials will be examined, since they are the principal phenomena affecting acoustic fields in closed spaces (reverberant fields). Transmission will be also discussed, in order to highlight the capacity of materials of reducing environmental noise and improving the sustainability of constructions.

The practical applications of these concepts to real life problems and buildings will be presented, together with some software modeling and simulations.

More about Prof. Claudio Guarnaccia, PhD

Andris Veinbergs, Technical Manager of enterprise «Knauf Latvia» (Latvia)

Workshop @ Sustainable Construction – Workshop at the Knauf Academy Training Center

We will introduce with sustainable employment of natural resources on the basis on Knauf’s production. It will be possible to follow the process from the extraction of gypsum stone to the construction product, and from the construction product to the system. Respectively, from EPD (Environment Product Declaration) to ESD (Environment System Declaration).

The practical part will take place at the Knauf Academy Training Center, where a possibility of practicing/building the CUBO 3D with 3D building performance according to the BIM principles will be provided.

More about Andris Veinbergs

Maija Krizmane, Sustainable Building Engineer and researcher (Latvia)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – Sustainable Building Principles and Certification Systems

Sustainable buildings ensure savings throughout their life cycle, as well as provide indoor comfort for users of such buildings. As construction process is complex, the details are usually the ones that matter. This lecture will give you an insight on the basic principles of sustainable construction and design practices. Insights on BREEAM and LEED certification systems and their application within current construction practices.

More about Maija Krizmane

Sanita Rubene, Docent, Researcher, Civil Engineer and Construction Supervisor (Latvia)

Workshop @ Sustainable Construction – The Visit Around Riga Technical University Campus

The visit around Riga Technical University campus will give an overview of different aspects of construction industry in Latvia. We will be visiting six fully reconstructed and newly built buildings as well as one construction site, where the reconstruction of the existing university building will take place.

The buildings will provide insight in Latvian construction practice as well as of incorporation of sustainable construction solutions such as wooden panels of external delimiting constructions and energy efficient solutions in construction design.

More about Sanita Rubene

Pasquale Cucco, Doctor in Building Engineering and Architecture (Italy)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – The Value of Reuse. Approaches for the Sustainable and Creative Redevelopment of Abandoned Historic Heritage

The phenomenon of reuse in architecture has very ancient roots, starting from the Vitruvian concept of utilitas, as an unavoidable condition of existence of every artifact, up to more recent years when many researchers have introduced the concept of memory and reuse of the ancient. It’s, therefore, an ancient custom to incorporate, transform and reuse all the pre-existing factories or entire portions of the city, so that they can become a creative stimulus for new projects related to the conservation and enhancement of the historical heritage.

For the architects and planners of the 21st century, the three «R» are very interesting: Restoration, Recovery and Reuse. The latter is intended as a union of all decisions aimed at modifying the building organism, its spatial contexts and, if necessary, to define a new function. The sustainable re-use of disused buildings aims to implement decisions that don’t compromise the environmental quality as well as the future life of settlements and inhabitants. In this context, reuse appears to be a valid strategy for the well-being of the historical work and for the revitalization of an entire city, only if inserted in a wider cultural, economic, social and environmental project supported by the whole community.

Focused on the dialectic «Use, Disuse, Reuse» and thanks to numerous design experiences, the lecture aims to create a debate that could constitute an important step in the definition of the protection and conservation system of the historical and artistic heritage.

More about Doctor Pasquale Cucco  

Claudia Sicignano, Building Engineer and architect (Italy)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – Municipal Plans for the Overcoming of Architectural Barriers in Helsinki and London

The problem of the overcoming of architectural barriers concerns with the whole «built and to be built» environment, from the historic towns up to the design of new architecture as well as infrastructures and public works. Many European cities and capitals have skilfully addressed the topic, such as Helsinki and London that are better examples in this regard. In fact, this issue had repercussions in several European countries, and in particular, in «virtuous» and «technologically» advanced territorial and urban areas. Helsinki and London were the first European cities in taking actions on overcoming architectural barriers, on a global level, at all scales, in all areas, according to the European regulatories. These projects include the involvement of the whole companies and private subjects, from political, administrative, social, economic and cultural point of view, as well as insiders and stakeholders, that are physically identifiable and important from theoretical and «human types» point of view. The lecture and the essay will illustrate the above mentioned projects in a skillful way through graphs and drawings, in order to show a concrete example and, therefore, to provide a new contribution to the discipline.

More about Claudia Sicignano  

Simona Mancini, Civil Engineer, PhD in Experimental Physics (Italy)

Lecture @ Sustainable Construction – The basics on Radon management in built environments

Sustainability includes strategies to improve human health and wellbeing in work and living environments providing structured and integrated safety solutions through the identification of all the potential hazards in the workplaces and buildings. Exposure to the radioactive gas Radon, which can accumulate into confined spaces, represents a hazard for human health. The long exposure to it, in fact, is associate to an increase of lung cancer onset.

The lecture deals with the identification of buildings and environments susceptible to the Radon risk and gives basic principles about the best strategies to manage the Radon risk into buildings.

More about PhD Simona Mancini

Professor Martins Vilnitis, Director of the Institute of Construction Technology at the Riga Technical University (Latvia)

Scientific Supervisor of the summer school «Sustainable Construction – from Traditions to Innovations»

More about Prof. Martins Vilnitis