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Be a Zero Hero with Building Lifecycle Analyses

Posted: September 20, 2017 by , Category:Uncategorized


Circular Economy, Lifecycle Assessment and Embodied Carbon are phrases we are hearing more and more in today’s climate where it is more crucial than ever to save as much energy and costs for our clients. This year’s World Green Building Week theme is #OurHeroIsZero. Today, there is a big push towards net-zero carbon by governments around the globe trying to meet stringent carbon reduction targets. With buildings making up 40% of the world’s carbon emissions, the pressure on the building industry is increasing every day. The knock on effect is that clients are demanding more innovation, bigger and better savings and the best possible Voluntary Environmental Ratings (VERS), such as LEED and BREEAM, for their buildings.

Life-cycle thinking addresses major environmental impacts throughout the complete life cycle of a product, from extraction of raw materials, processing of those materials, manufacturing of the product, transportation, use and final disposal, reuse or recycling. In the UK and Europe manufacturers, regulators, and specifiers have long been using life-cycle information to improve their product selections and environmental profiles. LEED V4BREEAM international and many other VERS have been supporting Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) for some time now.

Going forward, the incorporation of Life Cycle Cost (LCC) and Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) is key to delivering improved whole-building performance, which incorporates both operational and embodied CO2 consideration to provide the most resource-efficient building overall and over time. To meet net-zero carbon targets it is imperative to consider the Buildings Lifecycle. It is therefore, more important than ever that people designing and constructing our buildings understand the theory and application of lifecycle modelling in practice and are able to assess the financial risk of energy and environmental factors affecting the performance of your buildings throughout their lifetime.

As part of World Green Building Week, IES are holding a free Faculty event in London with the aim to help you do just that. The event, ‘Understanding Green Building Economics’, will delve into the practical application of capital cost, lifecycle cost and environmental lifecycle modelling of buildings. In this unique instalment of our Faculty series, Dr Naghman Khan of IES will be joined by special guest speakers Andrew Thompson, Director at Savills UK Building & Project Consultancy, and Andrew Cooper, Director at EVORA EDGE. Andrew Thomson will be speaking on the topic “The Savills Flat White Index – The Case for Improving Wellness in Building Design Quality in London”. While Andrew Cooper will share his expertise on building lifecycle analysis, reviewing some of the recent projects he has been involved in to show how IES’ IMPACT tool can be used to determine capital costs, life cycle costs and life cycle assessment.

Our popular IES Faculty events provide an open forum in which building design professionals can come together to discuss and debate recent developments and current challenges faced by the industry. These interactive public sessions, led with presentations from key industry experts, provide the perfect setting to collaborate and exchange ideas with your fellow peers.

You can register for our FREE event via this link. And whilst you’re at it, why not take the opportunity to submit a question prior to the Faculty and we’ll do our best to report back during the seminar.

I had the pleasure of attending the World Future Energy Expo event in Astana, Kazakhstan recently (July 2017). The expo and summit is one of the largest events dedicated to future energy and related technologies. Almost every country and region in the World exhibited their best technologies, projects, case studies, research and progress in renewable energy, energy technologies and national policies. Mixed into this vast exhibition of technology and innovation was a display of cultural and local treasures, highlighting the numerous, wonderful and fascinating cultures from around the World. I was especially impressed with the host nations’ pavilion. Kazakhstan, an emerging economy and forward thinking Country, has emphatically captured the imagination of the word ‘future’ in every sense. Their pavilion was like stepping into the set of a Star Trek movie (literally, there was a space themed exhibition in a giant spherical glass building, with an enormous model of the Sun, and a space man descending from the ceiling).

As fun as all the fancy displays were, even more impressive was the science and tech behind the ‘future energy revolution’ unfolding in many countries. I was surprised to see so many countries (not companies) talking about moving to 100% clean energy in the near future. Many countries had electric vehicles, solar PV, wind and hydro resources at the centre of their clean energy transitions, along with novel utility business models with smart metering, IoT, block-chain and even artificial intelligence (AI) taking a pivotal role. It was also good to see a range of technologies being promoted; from small scale biogas to energy efficient cooking stoves, to energy storage and even tidal/wave technology finally making a splash!

Through conversation with senior policy makers from Azerbaijan and other countries, I better appreciate now the ‘local’ challenges of tackling the energy problem and climate change impacts. Their 3 cents (US) per KWh of energy cost as compared to almost 20 c/KWh in the UK makes for very different ‘payback’ and ROI scenarios, so an obvious solution in one country might not be so true in another.

Naghman (far left) with senior policy makers at the Capacity Building Programme, as well as organisers from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) were delighted to be invited to present at a capacity building workshop for senior policy makers from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Georgia as part of a wider programme organised by the Government of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. I was presenting on behalf of IES. It was a fantastic experience.

Being able to listen to local energy challenges and the innovative solutions being thought up around the World, reminded me that the ‘future energy’ we often talk about is not so futuristic as it might seem. Fortunately, it’s here now and that gives me hope.


We believe that much more needs to be done to mitigate climate change. It’s happening faster than anyone wants to believe. And buildings play a huge part in this. In fact, buildings are responsible for 40% of the world’s carbon emissions – that’s more than any other industry. If we are going to save the planet, we need to focus on dramatically reducing this number. This is fundamentally why we do what we do at IES. We want to reduce the environmental impact that buildings have on our planet.

As Earth Day approaches, we want to help raise awareness about the impact that buildings have on the environment and why we need to take action now before it becomes too late. Recent political events such as President Trump’s reversal of US Climate Change policies means it’s now more important than ever that we stand together and fight against what we all know to be a very real threat. This is why IES are standing side-by-side with Green Building Councils and other like-minded organisations across the globe to do as much as we can to mitigate the effects of Climate Change. We recently signed a letter by the USGBC to support them in trying to save key programs run by the Environmental Protection Agency, you can too by clicking on this link.

Last year a powerful message from Architecture 2030 resonated strongly with us and is as relevant (if not more so) now. The message came in an article just after Donald Trump was elected as President and it said it was important to remember that we are far from powerless to continue to effect meaningful change, and that change had to happen from the bottom up and not the top down. It reminded us of all the great work that has already been done and this momentum will continue regardless of what is being said at the top. The following statistics were cited in the article…

“Worldwide, 533 cities are now reporting their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a 70% increase in reporting since the Paris Agreement. To date, 30% of these cities have GHG emissions reduction targets. In North America, 56% of the cities reporting have GHG emissions reduction targets, many declaring zero emissions or an 80% reduction by 2050 or earlier.” Read the full article.

In its 2014 2030 Commitment Progress Report, the AIA stated “Quite simply, energy modeling presents the greatest opportunity for architects to realize more ambitious energy-saving in their design projects.” With this in mind, a holistic approach to energy and performance modeling is imperative.

The IES Virtual Environment (IESVE) gives you the factual insights required to accurately establish everything from what building materials to use to reduce drafts and avoid overheating from the sun, to how best to right-size your systems, to dramatically reduce running costs, to how to reduce water consumption and overall energy demands. The key to our success, and the reason why tens of thousands of people around the world are using IESVE to make better buildings, is our ability to look at the building in an integrated way to pinpoint simple but highly effective things you can do to reduce your buildings impact on our planet.

At IES we think we should make every day Earth Day. As our Founder and CEO Dr Don McLean said, “Only by looking at buildings and cities as the integrated environments that they are – instead of parts of the problem in isolation – can we ensure everyone involved in the conception, design or management of a building gets to leave our world in a much better state than we inherited it.”

Let’s work together and do more to save our planet. We’ve only got one. Are you up to the challenge?

What You Can Do

Take advantage of our FREE Earth Day special give aways to empower you to help save our planet.

Have a look at our Earth Day Infographic for more facts and figures on how buildings are impacting our planet.

Watch our Founder and CEO, Don McLean’s Earth Day video message.

Join us on our quest to fight climate change. Subscribe to our DiscoverIES newsletter.

Have your say. Follow us on Twitter and use the hashtag #EarthDayEveryDay. You can also join us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Breathing Buildings2.jpg
We’ve been working with Breathing Buildings for several months now, and today we’re excited to announced the result of that collaboration – a brand new performance component within the VE for Breathing Buildings’ NVHR low energy hybrid ventilation system.

The new component uses IES Navigator technology to streamline and automate the integration of the component with the IES 3D building model. The Navigator includes guidance for Part L2 (UK) and provides automated CIBSE TM52 reportage. The Navigators step-by-step feature means that it’s easy to use, even if you are a first time user.

Other features include, in-model checks and model warnings to help users ensure the system is set up correctly. And In-model colour coding is also a useful feature to show that the model is correctly set up in preparation for simulation

NVHR-Component
Our VE for Engineers suite features a library of predefined 3D component representations of manufacturers systems that can be dragged easily from a catalogue of products onto a building model constructed within the VE. We’re excited to add the Breathing Buildings NVHR low energy hybrid ventilation system to this library, allowing our customers to easily assess performance and energy savings, as well as ease the process for passing UK regulations.

For more information, visit http://www.iesve.com/software/ve-for-engineers/manufacturer-tools/breathing-buildings

 

All Good Things Come in Threes…

Posted: August 15, 2016 by , Category:Uncategorized

Award-Nominations

They say all good things come in threes and that certainly seems to be the case for us here at IES right now as we recently found out that we have been shortlisted for – not just one – but three awards!

We are delighted to announce our place as finalists in the following award categories:

VIBES Awards 2016 – Environmental Product or Service Award
The VIBES Environmental Product or Service Award recognises businesses that have developed, or are developing, a product or service that brings notable environmental and business benefits. Our Virtual Environment software and consulting services are currently under consideration and we look forward to welcoming the VIBES judges to our office in the coming weeks for the final stage in the judging process. The winning entries will be announced at the VIBES Award ceremony on 8th November 2016. You can read more at: http://www.vibes.org.uk/news/2016/scotland-s-greenest-businesses-make-the-cut-for-vibes-final/

Glasgow Business Awards 2016 – Creative Marketing Award
You may have read about our awards success earlier in the year when we overcame stiff competition to win the H&V BIM Initiative of the Year Award with our BIM4Analysis campaign. We are thrilled that the campaign has now been shortlisted for a second accolade – this time in the Creative Marketing category of this year’s Glasgow Business Awards! Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Hilton Glasgow Hotel on Thursday 6th October 2016. View the full shortlist here: http://www.glasgowchamberofcommerce.com/glasgow-business-awards/2016-shortlist/

Inspiring City Awards 2016 – Environmental Award
The Inspiring City Awards aim to give recognition to individuals, businesses and organisations who have gone beyond the call of duty to encourage, mentor and support investment and growth in Glasgow. IES have been shortlisted in the Environmental Award category which recognises outstanding contribution to enhance Glasgow’s environment and/or combat climate change within the country. Winners will be announced at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow on 8th September 2016. Read more about this year’s awards here: http://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/inspiring-city-awards/

Wish us luck!

Health & Wellbeing is the new frontier for making our buildings even better. A rich body of academic research and business case studies have arisen over the last five years, showing the physical, physiological, cognitive, health and wellness benefits of positive interactions between Humans and the built environment. The WELL standard is a specific example of capturing and formalising this complex issue into a documented rating system, much overdue and warmly received. It follows similar approaches to common rating systems such as LEED and BREEAM in that a ‘credit’ style approach is used during the design and operation stage of the building to demonstrate compliance.

WELL

Our UK Business Development Manager Naghman Khan has written a very interesting and informative article around this topic looking in more detail at the WELL standard and how building performance modelling can be used to meet the standard and significantly improve the health and wellbeing of building occupants.

The full article is available via DiscoverIES at https://www.iesve.com/discoveries/article/what-next-for-building-design-well/

Happy reading!

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Daylight
For many, city living has it all and is the best place to live. This belief can be attributed to common themes;

  • Access to work place, educational, medical, retail and leisure facilities
  • Transport links and reduced travel times
  • Cultural benefits with social possibilities and networking

With this, many developers still see building development in city and brownfield sites as a key area of focus. However residential development poses some interesting challenges perhaps none more so than with respect to visual amenity;

  • Views and privacy
  • Quality and availability of sunlight

Whenever new development is planned there are a number of key parties all with their own interests:

  • The development team eager to gain planning permission whilst minimising risk and associated delay
  • Existing Building Owners and Residents who may be impacted by new developments
  • New Building Owners and Residents keen to ensure they maximise visual amenity

Privacy, daylight, sunlight and immediate outlook are all import factors and should be considered as early as possible in the design stage.

Early daylighting analysis using 3D modelling techniques will improve understanding and mitigate the risks. Using a low cost modelling approach at each design stage helps avoid costly abortive design and construction works.

Daylight, Sunlight and Overshadowing (DSO) assessment can include tests for a range of factors that designers use to make the right decisions:

  • Average Daylight Factor – the amount of daylight in a given space reported as %
  • Annual Probable Sunlight Hours – the expected number or % of sunlight hours for a reference point
  • Overshadowing to Gardens and Shared Space – images showing the change in shadows cast by proposed / existing buildings
  • Glazing % – the level of Glazing on facades / orientations – can be required by Planners
  • Vertical Sky Component – the illuminance ratio at a reference point based on the amount of visible sky – can be required by Planners)
  • Daylight Distribution / No Sky Line – identifies which parts of a room the sky can be seen directly – can be required by Planners)
  • Glare – where there is a potential for ‘dazzle’ occurring when sunlight is reflected from a glazed facade leading to issues for motorist or pedestrians – can be required by Planners)

IES Consulting have the experience to help investigate and interpret the impact on your building design by undertaking the tests summarised above. IES work with you from the concept stage to ensure that building form is well considered and to identify potential problems quickly and help test possible design solutions to reduce planning risks and help avoid the potential for related neighbourly disputes.

All Energy: All Wrapped Up

Posted: May 17, 2016 by , Category:Uncategorized

As the doors to All Energy closed the other week, so did the end of a busy week for IES. Our R&D division presented on five different European funded projects we’re currently involved in:

EINSTEIN & Energy in Time: Making real-time operational control of buildings a reality with 3D simulation
Catherine Conaghan, Senior Project Manager, IES

INDICATE: Towards the development of a virtual 3D city model: Dundalk, Ireland
Aiden Melia, Project Manager, IES

NewTREND: Next Generation district integrated building retrofit
Nick Purshouse, Project Manager, IES

IMPRESS: Energy reducing pre-fabricated retrofit panels (BIM) integrated
Nick Purshouse, Project Manager, IES

Glasgow
It’s only the first week of January and already controversy has hit Glasgow. The topic of office banter on Tuesday morning was Ellie Harrison and her Glasgow Effect project being awarded £15k by Creative Scotland. The artist will not leave the greater Glasgow Area for 1 year (except in the event of the ill-heath / death of close relative or friend), and it’s already caused a storm on social media.

“By setting this one simple restriction to her current lifestyle, she intends to test the limits of a ‘sustainable practice’ and to challenge the demand-to-travel placed upon the ‘successful’ artist / academic. The experiment will enable her to cut her carbon footprint and increase her sense of belonging, by encouraging her to seek out and create ‘local opportunities’ – testing what becomes possible when she invests all her ideas, time and energy within the city where she lives.”

Personally I find it hard to criticise a project that hasn’t produced anything yet, especially when I don’t know anything about the artist and her intentions. So I looked her up to find out more and discovered she has a strong interest in climate change, political activism and big data.

According to the Herald, and Ellie herself the project was initially called Think Global Act Local and is not primarily about poverty or deprivation in the city, as many people have assumed, but about exploring the benefits and practicalities of localism for artists and communities. And, so with COP21 fresh in my mind I can’t help hoping that some of this project’s outcomes will shine a light on how local communities can start to address the many challenges of keeping global warming at or below 2°C.

The COP21 agreement signed in Paris at the end of last year was a declaration by all 196 nations of the world to pull together and attempt to reduce carbon emissions, thus limiting the onslaught of global warming and reducing air pollution worldwide. While undoubtedly the biggest difference will be made by big business and governments, see our founder Don’s views on this, I also believe that each and every one of us must also do our bit by changing the way we live, work, travel and think; no matter where we are from or how rich we are.

I don’t normally take directly from another source but this article in Envirotech resonated so well I couldn’t rewrite. Here are just some things it suggests you can do to reduce air pollution in your area and curb climate change on a global scale.

  • Conserve energy. It might sound obvious, but turning off lights when not in use, switching off appliances, taking shorter showers, only boiling enough water in the kettle for your purposes, etc. – all of these things add up to dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. If you live in Glasgow City you can use the Energy App we developed for the City Council as part of its Smart City initiative.
  • Get some exercise. Walking or cycling to and from work or to the shops is not only good for you, it also means one less car on the road! This means one less exhaust spitting out harmful fumes and one less contributing factor to air pollution.
  • Take public transport. For longer distances, the British network of buses and trains is sufficiently developed to offer flexible routes to most destinations, especially in larger cities. Taking the bus can also be far more cost-effective than owning and maintaining a car, especially when petrol prices are factored in.
  • Drive responsibly. If you really must take the car, ensure you drive it in a responsible manner. This means cutting out unnecessary idling, increasing fuel efficiency by driving at optimal speeds, keeping the pressure on your tyres inflated and generally conducting routine maintenance.
  • Recycle and reuse. Instead of buying a new item when the old one becomes worn or dysfunctional, try to repair it. Recycle as much of your consumed produce as possible. Before throwing away, consider whether it can be reused.
  • Buy environmentally-friendly. Steer clear of products which contain many chemicals, solvents or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), choosing water-based paints and other cosmetics and environmentally-friendly approved products in general.
  • Make your voice heard. Take part in environmental protests, sign petitions and join campaigns to lobby for more environmental practices in your local community, in government and among big business.

The thing is, communities can and are coming together to make a difference, whether through local generation schemes, car-pooling, community gardens or many other like-mined programmes. And there undoubtedly must, and will, be more opportunities in the future for communities to take a bottom up approach to becoming more sustainable in the way we approach energy-use, waste and life in general.

Ellie’s original project title is in some ways far more accurate, but most people wouldn’t have looked twice at a project named ‘Think Global Act Local’. The phrase has been used in various contexts, including planning, environment, education, mathematics, and business, and even has its own Wikipedia page. It makes absolute sense when you apply it to climate change – it’s a global problem, but there’s action that can be taken by us all at a local level to combat it – thinking globally and acting locally.

In the end, I might not like the work Ellie produces for the Glasgow Effect, we will see. But for me it’s already been an opportunity to reflect on the role of local and community in our lives and has introduced me to projects and ideas I wouldn’t ordinarily have come across – Ellie’s own Radical Renewable Art + Activism Fund (RRAAF) to use a wind turbine to generate renewable energy and fund a ‘no strings attached’ grant for art-activist projects and a big bang data exhibition she was involved in. Both of which resonate personally and professionally.

So hate it or support it, Ellie’s Glasgow Effect project has stirred up a lot of feelings, debate and unfortunately abuse. It has also inspired a lot of social media ‘art’ in retaliation and hopefully also made us stop and think a bit. Where will it go from here, who knows, but I’m certainly interested to find out.

Kim-Interview
The AIA recently issued a press release announcing the findings of its AIA 2030 Commitment 2014 Progress report.
The report showed that nearly half of energy-modeled projects met or came close to meeting 2014 carbon reduction targets, with a quote from the press release saying “Quite simply, energy modeling presents the greatest opportunity for architects to realize more ambitious energy-saving in their design projects.”

The press release featured industry experts who agreed that energy modeling is key to reaching carbon neutrality in buildings. We interviewed one of the experts, Kim Shinn, a Sustainability Wizard at TLC Engineering for Architecture, to find out more of his views on energy modeling and the benefits of an integrated design workflow.

Why is an integrated design process, where the architect, engineer, owner, developer, and contractor are a critical part of the concept modeling stage, so important to creating sustainable buildings?
A couple of reasons come to mind.  The first is the principal that the earlier you can make an informed decision, the greater its impact on the building’s potential to perform well and the lower it will cost to implement. The second is that each member of the team brings special knowledge, perspective and experience to help inform those decisions – we benefit in the whole having greater knowledge than the sum of the parts.

Why is it so important for Architects to incorporate energy modeling as part of their design process?
All building performance simulations, not just the ones that model energy performance, are incredible tools that open a window into the design process.  Buildings are complex, comprising interactive elements and systems that defy the human mind’s ability to integrate all that information to develop design solutions and evaluate alternatives.  The decisions that project teams must make, especially the architects, from siting and orientation, to massing, to fenestration, to program area assignment, all the way down to envelope constructions are best informed when the architect understands the energy implications of those decisions, along with cost, aesthetics, function and human health and wellness.  Architects have to balance all those factors and the more information that they have about them, the better decisions they can make.

What do you think makes Architects hesitant about energy modeling? What are the obstacles to the uptake of energy modeling?
Energy modelling tools, especially the ones with a lot of power and capability, can be very complex and intimidating.  I frequently tease architects that energy models are powerful and complex tools, and as with many powerful and complex tools, an inexperienced operator can be maimed if not careful.  Also, the output of some of the older tools have traditionally been mostly numerical and not easily or quickly understood without a lot of “post-processing”.  Understanding and effective use of an energy model depends upon the user’s ability, skill and knowledge of building science.  Unfortunately, some architects are intimidated by “science” and think that “science” is the province of engineers.  So, I think architects are hesitant because they fear that they won’t be able to use the software and/or understand the model’s results without having to hire a consultant (normally an engineer).  Who wants an engineer around during design anyway – their vocabulary usually starts and ends with “no”.  Architects think it will take too much time and money (especially if they have to pay a consultant to do it).  Therefore, the obstacles:  knowledge, time and money.

Do you think concept energy modeling is enough? Is there a need for more detailed energy modeling at the early stages to uncover innovative strategies?
Concept modeling is a start, and needs to be more widely used.  If it becomes more routinely used, I think teams will see that there are opportunities to investigate novel and innovative strategies at early stages of design – especially to determine if further, more intensive investigations are warranted and feasible.

In your experience of using IESVE do you think it enables more detailed analysis at early design stages? If so can you explain how it does this?
Without question.  The integrated suite of solar, daylighting and glare analysis, wind and ventilation modeling, along with the energy analysis offered in the VE sets it apart in its ability to figuratively “open the windows” [pun intended] for looking at any number of early strategies that help shape the building’s architecture.  Effective daylighting and natural ventilation depend so much upon building form, fenestration and orientation that it is difficult and usually prohibitively expensive to develop and implement good solutions after those decisions are made in the absence of the information gained from simulations.  The VE also has enormous power and potential to influence, not only energy performance, but also the health and wellness performance of buildings, especially when it comes to occupant comfort and productivity that results from good daylighting, indoor comfort and natural ventilation.

Do you think the AIA guide will have a significant impact on increasing the amount of projects that use an integrated design process?
The Institute is incredibly influential.  It is trusted by its members, as well as the greater design and construction community, for the quality of its educational offerings as well as for helping shape the culture of the design practice.  The education materials developed, as well as the policies adopted and advocated by the Institute have the potential to change the way architecture is practiced, not only in North America, but around the world.  And these changes affect the way real estate development happen – all the way from client expectations to project delivery to actual performance.

Do you know of any good project examples that have used an integrated design process and are achieving good results? Can you share these with us?
I daresay that any Living Building or LEED Platinum project is an excellent example of an integrated design process.  In fact, it is almost inconceivable to think of achieving those levels of performance without using integrated design processes – short of spending inordinate sums on “buying points” and excessive renewable energy capacity.  While we have many, many examples of these projects, I’ll just cite one.  The fitness center at Tyndall Air Force Base is the US Air Force’s first LEED Platinum building, and the first LEED Platinum project administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  The architect was Atkins and TLC provided the building systems engineering.  The Air Force wanted to use the project as an educational demonstration project, to demonstrate how integrated design and incorporating early energy modelling could achieve high performance goals – they wanted the project to demonstrate how to achieve LEED Silver level on a “conventional” building budget.  I think it speaks volumes that we were able to achieve Platinum on a pre-LEED budget.  We used energy modelling at the concept phase to influence site orientation, massing, and fenestration approaches to minimize solar gain and maximize daylighting potential, as well as to maximize the solar photovoltaic and solar thermal potential of the building for no capital cost impact.  We used energy and daylight modelling to size the window apertures and glazing material selections during design development, as well as to optimize the equipment sizing, achieving significant capital cost savings over more “conventional” approaches.

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