An integrated design process is proving to be the key to achieving high-performance, sustainable buildings. By bringing all of the project stakeholders to the table at the early conceptual stage of the process, the team can set forth with a common set of goals. The result is that sustainable strategies are better coordinated during design and construction, and projects are more likely to be completed on time and on budget. Once the project is complete and the building is operational, the owner and building operators are familiar with the efficiency measures that were implemented and know how to keep them running properly.
Let’s focus on the role of the design team — architects and engineers. As a mechanical engineer, I have always enjoyed collaborating with architects to begin the analysis as early as possible. The decisions we make during conceptual design will impact a building’s performance for its entire life, so it is important that we begin to quantify the impact of these decisions. The building’s site orientation, its geometry, its envelope design, and the arrangement of spaces within the building (planning), will have dramatic effects on its energy consumption, the availability of daylighting, thermal comfort, and the effectiveness of passive strategies. This is also the stage where we must develop an understanding of the climate to determine which sustainable strategies are most appropriate.
VE-Ware and the VE-Toolkits have been designed with these issues in mind, but also as a means to improve collaboration between architects and engineers. As the architects devise various conceptual options in SketchUp or Revit, they can assess performance metrics along the way and share this information with the engineers for their input. The engineers can then use the same analysis model to help refine and optimize strategies that have been found to be beneficial to the building’s performance, or make recommendations where aspects of the design are found to be detrimental.
So, you can see that this approach starts to blur the line between the traditional roles of the architect and engineer. Architects performing analysis…Engineers helping the designers with the building form…What’s next? Cats and dogs living together in harmony? Only time will tell…
Dimitri Contoyannis, PE
I had the great pleasure of launching what might be best termed a “Green Blitzkrieg” last month as we landed in 9 US and Canadian cities and over 70 design firms from coast to coast. Many thanks to all those who hosted us — we hope you stay tuned via When after I’m you. It […]
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