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As someone who has had multiple conversations with architects about sustainability and building performance over the last 7 – 8 months, I am often asked the question: “Can architects really make a difference to the low carbon transition within the built environment?” So, I decided to put my thoughts in a blog and let you be the judge of it…

Architects will often say that they have the intent, but they don’t have the budget or the expertise to deliver on performance based design. Others will say that there is not enough demand; the cost considerations overshadow sustainability initiatives; the clients are interested in maximising rooms rather than minimising energy and carbon in a development; or they are happy with the existing outsourcing relationship with their partners (including M&E partners and cost consultants). The list goes on and on.

However, there are strong commercial reasons to support why architects should be taking the initiative to set the sustainability agenda within the built environment space.

There are opportunities for them to:

  1. Exceed client expectations
  2. Manage resources better
  3. Reduce project risk
  4. Improve collaboration with partners
  5. Foster innovation

At IES, we foresee a future where architecture is synonymous with sustainable design, irrespective of the size of the practice or complexity of projects. Given our 20+ years of experience in developing cutting edge building performance tools, we are well positioned to support architects in this vision. We have been striving to make it easy for architects to push sustainability within their practice, especially during RIBA project stages 2 & 3, and, keeping in sync with digitisation trends in the industry, we have made our tools BIM Level 2 ready with a high degree of interoperability with platforms including Revit, SketchUp, Rhino and Archicad.

IES provides a comprehensive approach to sustainable design which includes multiple elements to cover daylighting, solar shading, visual comfort, thermal comfort, energy & carbon, costing and environmental impact. The VE software can also be used to help secure BREEAM credits across categories like materials, management, health & well-being and energy.

In fact, those looking to maximise their BREEAM potential might be interested to learn that IESVE can help them achieve 33% of all BREEAM credits. That’s almost half the credits required for a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating!

Furthermore, with the IES IMPACT suite of tools, architects can target up to a total of 12 capital costing, life cycle costing and life cycle impact credits, which have traditionally been thought to be cost prohibitive. Unlocking these credits can make the difference between achieving an ‘Excellent’ rating and a ‘Very Good’ rating, so there’s definite value to be gained. What’s more, reporting to the BRE couldn’t be easier as it can be done by sending the IES model directly to them.

The more advanced users out there can also take advantage of the latest ParametricHONE (optimisation) and Python Scripting capabilities within the VE to challenge their client’s approach or to aid participation in research projects or competitions.

Don’t take our word for all the WOW features and capabilities. Try it out! You already know how technology can make a difference to your workflows and give you a competitive edge.

Go to our website and download the 30-day trial today. With built-in navigators and Distance Learning courses available, you’ll be up and running in no time. And, if you get stuck, reach out to our friendly support team, dip into the FREE resources available from our Knowledge Baseuser manuals and YouTube channel, or connect with others in the IES Community via our user forum and LinkedIn group to see how they are using the tools within their own practice.

As they say – Dream Big, Start Small, Begin Now! We’d love to be part of your sustainability journey – why not contact me today to find out how?

ahmm_image_2 (2)Guest blogger, Dr Craig Robertson – Head of Sustainability at architecture firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, shares his insight on the value of integrating performance analysis tools from even the early stages of design.

At Allford Hall Monaghan Morris we work across a range of sectors, specialising in designing buildings that are enjoyable to use, beautiful to look at and easy to understand. Our ethos is to create buildings that work over time and have lasting qualities intrinsic to their architecture.

For us, a project begins with a strategy rather than a design solution. Each strategy arises from understanding the fundamental drivers of a brief and the parameters, problems and opportunities it represents. Although this approach might involve a complexity of thought, the aim is always to produce a simple, legible proposal that can be responsive to change while still remaining true to the core of the brief. This ensures that our design ideas are robust enough to survive the pressures that can be expected on the way to the finished building.

Our design process is architectural, in that our primary decision drivers are that of townscape, spatial qualities, user experience, materiality and form. However, we recognise that making buildings is a collaborative process and we work hard to integrate engineering and space conditioning strategies into our designs. We focus on adaptable, occupant controlled environments using passive means where possible.

Performance-based design is important to enable understanding of the energy, cost and comfort implications of our design decisions. We have to balance all these factors and more, and carrying out performance analysis provides us with the detailed information we need to make better design decisions.

We use IESVE to perform more detailed analysis of our proposals and to support our architectural decisions, challenge briefs and integrate a strategic environmental approach into our architecture. It is an essential tool to understand how our architectural proposals can be optimised to maximise comfort and minimise energy consumption.

Early stage examples we are currently working on include developing a fixed shading strategy for a new commercial office building, illustrating the benefits of hybrid conditioning to a developer client, reassuring a planning department over concerns about sunlight and simplifying the servicing requirements for a residential project.

We find that as the legislative framework around energy and sustainability becomes increasingly stringent, the onus is on us to make the case for low energy, high performance architecture. Outputs from IESVE help us do that.

Want to find out more about integrating VE analysis tools within your architectural practice? Visit our VE for Architects webpage or contact one of our representatives at sales@iesve.com for more information.

IESVE for Architects – Creating Geometry

Posted: December 20, 2013 by , Category:Architects

creating-geometry

In this post we’ll continue in our series of IESVE

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for Architects blogs. So far we’ve looked at ‘Getting Started’ and ‘Site Analysis’, which brings us on nicely to how you go about Creating Geometry within the package.

Firstly, it is important to understand that as well as geometry, simulation programs such as IESVE also require additional data to be assigned to the model. The data needed depends on the analysis function you are undertaking, such as data on location, occupancy, usage patterns, construction materials and HVAC systems.

However, we understand that at early stages you will not have access to all this information. To get round this IES has included pre-populated idealised data templates into the software which you can use at early stages. These enable you to analyse the important design considerations using like-for-like comparisons, rather than trying to make detailed predictions which is something for later design stages. You can set this data in a number of ways; including importing a model from SketchUp or Revit® or building from scratch in the VE.

Modelling in the VE
ModelIT is the VE module used to create geometry with or without AutoCAD data. ModelIT gives you efficient modelling –with fast track functions, easy visual checks and no rebuilding. Get the lowdown on using ModelIT to create geometry from scratch in the IESVE for Architects support material.

Importing from SketchUp
sketchup-model-to-veThe SketchUp plug-in enables the direct translation of geometry into the VE from either the Free or Pro versions. The plug-in offers SketchUp users a range of model building tools designed to make creating ‘best practice’ geometry for performance analysis effortless. It also allows you to quickly assign important data; such as location, building type, construction and HVAC type. Take the step by step guide to using the Sketchup plug-in here.

Importing from Revit®
The Revit plug-in

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enables the direct translation of geometry into the VE from both Revit Architecture and Revit MEP. The plug-in allows Revit users to translate all bounded rooms into a VE compatible format and quickly assign important data; such as location, building type, construction and HVAC type. Use the support material to follow the best practice checklist for translating Revit to the VE.

The SketchUp and Revit plug-ins are included in the trial installation and will appear automatically in the application. If you have not yet started your IESVE for Architects trial then head to our website to start today.

There are a number of import options and integrations on offer when you using the VE. You can read more about them here – www.iesve.com/software/software-interoperability.

IESVE for Architects – Site Analysis

Posted: October 25, 2013 by , Category:Architects

Site-Analysis

In the last IESVE for Architects blog post we looked at getting started with the free 30 day trial of the package. You should now have access to the software and are starting to find your way about.

This brings us on to our next post, site analysis…

Did you know within IESVE for Architects it is uniquely possible to get specific site understanding and pre-design sustainability direction without having to draw a single model line?

You can interrogate the climate and determine suitable bio-climatic architectural strategies just by setting the location and choosing a weather file, aiding the establishment of performance goals and energy efficient benchmarks such as for the building envelope, thermal comfort, visual comfort, daylight penetration and view.

Weather File Choice
The VE uses an hourly weather data file that you can select to drive its simulations. It is important you use data from a site close to and similar to yours so that the assumed impact of the sun, wind and rain etc. on your building is a close match.

Check out our Trial Support Guide for instructions on setting location and selecting weather files, and adding additional files from other sources.

Climate Consideration
Climate data can be assessed before any building has been designed. Using the VE-Gaia Navigator, Climate metrics can be analysed at a very early stage, enabling you to:
•    Interrogate local climate – current & future
•    Understand ASHRAE/Koeppen-Geiger climate classification
•    Review Diurnal swing
•    Undertake Mahoney comfort stress analysis
•    Summarise relevant metrics related to climate
•    Understand buildings and design responses to climate metrics
•    Report on temperature, moisture/humidity, wind, precipitation, solar energy

The Support Guide shows you how to select and analyse climate metrics, climate index and climate change.

Bio-Climatic Direction
Bioclimatic Analysis is using an understanding of climate to inform building design strategy, and also a reasoned understanding of traditional or vernacular architecture.

Use the IESVE architects package to create bioclimatic reports that detail design priorities; micro-climate; urban street pattern; urban pattern; building macro form; building micro form. There are a number of suggestions given in relation to the building form; construction; window/openings;  shading/protection; ventilation; passive technology; active technology and HVAC details.

So now we’ve covered getting started with the package and site analysis. Stay tuned for our next post, when we’ll look at creating geometry.

IESVE for Architects – Getting Started

Posted: October 16, 2013 by , Category:Architects

getting-started

To coincide with the official launch of the IESVE for Architects package, we’ll be posting a series of micro blogs over the next couple of weeks to help users get set up to test drive the package with our free 30 day trial and see the impact it can have on sustainable design.

First let’s take a look at how to go about getting the software up and running on your machine.  In order to get started you need to download and install the software and then request and activate your licence keys. Keys activation is a manual process so please leave time for our team to deal with your request.

Installation
– Download both the VE ‘Application’ and ‘Shared Content’ installers from www.iesve.com
– Install ‘Shared Content’ first
– Follow the Set-Up Wizard for each installation

Setting Up Keys
– Launch the IESVE software
•Request Licence Keys when prompted
•Keys will be issued for the software via email
– After licences have been issued the “Keys” directory should not be moved
– Activate software
– You will now be able to access the IESVE for Architects applications

You have full access to our online support material and support team during your trial period so if you have any queries visit www.iesve.com/support or email support@iesve.com. Full support is also included when the package is purchased.

Now you’re ready to get started with the software. Finding your way around is made easier with a selection of Navigators which take you through key workflows in the software. You will also have access to a number of the VE Applications; ModelIT, SunCast and RadianceIES so that you can undertake more detailed solar and daylight studies.

Take a look at our new Trial Support Guide for a more detailed look at the VE user interface.

So now it’s time to download the free trial and put some time aside to get familiar with the IESVE for Architects package and the capabilities of the software. Our next blog posts will look at site analysis, creating geometry and building analysis.

It’s also worth while checking out our new video which provides an overview of this specially designed architectural analysis package…

LEEDing the way to NeoCon East 2012

Posted: October 17, 2012 by , Category:events, LEED

This week I’ve headed stateside for NeoCon East 2012 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Kicking off today and taking place over two days, NeoCon is the premier design exposition and conference for commercial interiors on the East Coast. I’ve been invited to the conference to take part in a seminar (taking place on Thursday 1-2pm) with the USGBC to demonstrate the benefits of LEED Automation and how LEED Automation Partner software can streamline the LEED workflow.

At IES we’ve been designing & selling LEED Automation tools for almost 4 years. Our tools are specifically targeted to be used by architects and engineers throughout the entire building design process and are used to aide integrated design. It’s an approach that sits well with the LEED methodology. For the NeoCon seminar I will be presenting our three software tools that specifically help LEED accredited professionals: IES VE-Navigator for LEED, IES VE-Navigator for ASHRAE 90.1 and IES TaP for LEED (launching next month at Greenbuild). These tools provide three levels of benefits to the LEED professional:

– Credit assessments straight from your BIM model (no need to recreate geometry or data)
– Credit interpretation — the software interprets the results of the analysis and crucially the LEED methodology and provides output tailored for submission to LEED Online
– LEED Design Team management — streamlining time spent chasing and organizing your design teams responsibilities and submission material

The first tool IES is offering as a LEED Automation Partner is the IES VE-Navigator for LEED. This tool, targeted at both architects and engineers, at any stage in the design process enables the assessment of a number of common sustainable analysis topics — Daylighting, Thermal comfort, Water, Renewables and Sustainable Sites — and crucially interprets the results output from the analysis tool, and creating reportage suitable for use within LEED letter templates. The tool can be used for the following versions of LEED: LEED NC V2.2/V3, LEED SchoolsV1/V3 and LEED Core and Shell V2/V3 and can be used for Daylighting, Comfort, Water, Renewables and soon Sustainable Sites credits.

The second software tool that aligns with the LEED Automation partner program is the IES VE-Navigator for ASHRAE 90.1. This tool is an EPACT Approved (since 2009) LEED Energy modelling tool for Ea Credit 1. The functionality and approach of the ASHRAE 90.1 Navigator follows the same concept as the LEED Navigator, in that it simplifies and streamlines the use of analysis tools to create efficient ways of assessing the energy credit.

You may be already familiar with the tools above but the final part of my presentation will be taking a look at a new one; IES Tap for LEED. Following on from a successful BREEAM version of this tool, IES TaP for LEED is a Project Management tool. IES TaP allows you to streamline and keep control of the project team and the material required for a LEED submission. It allows you to access and track your LEED projects and evidence documents in one secure online location, increasing the efficiency across the project team and cutting down on time spent chasing people up! The benefits of this tool are numerous and include two way communication between IES TaP & LEED Online, IES TaP directly populates rating system documentation requirements from USGBC online credit library (so the IES TaP system is always up to date), Score Card Functionality to easily calculate your certification goal and current credit rating, and automatic email notifications to keep the team updated.

So that’s where we are as LEED Automation partners. A lot has been done to assist you with your LEED projects, with more in the pipeline. I look forward to seeing some of you in Baltimore tomorrow at 1:00-2:00pm, for what should be an interesting insight into LEED Automation.

Remember to stay tuned for the launch of IES TaP for LEED at GreenBuild.

Last month, to mark our return to the AIA Convention, we launched a competition to explore the architect’s role in building energy analysis. We put the following question to architects, engineers and sustainability consultants around the world — What do you view as the Architect’s role in Energy Analysis?

We received many interesting and thought provoking answers that had our judges deadlocked in deciding who would come away with the fantastic prize of a one year license for VE-Gaia, the VE-Navigator for LEED, as well as associated IESVE modules and training.

Our expert panel were pushed to pick a winning entry and we are delighted to announce that the winner is Susan Welker of Harris Welker Architects. Susan’s entry impressed us because it really got to the heart of what the architect must strive for when aspiring to create the most energy efficient building possible. Here is Susan’s winning entry…

As Architects of not just the built environment, but the planet, our role in energy analysis is threefold. We are the thought leaders in the early stages of design and set the form for the building’s needs for light, water, energy and natural resources. Architects analyze their initial energy analysis with engineering consultants to revise and maximize the buildings minimum energy usage. Finally and most importantly, Architects follow through with observations and field testing to achieve the minimum energy usage during the construction phase.

We also had other entries that are too good not to give an honourable mention to…

Ryan Arnold of MSI Engineers made an interesting point about the collaborative nature of energy analysis – Energy analysis has developed into a truly collaborative process, a process that’s success relies on it not being the claim of one profession, but as a shared responsibility to the whole project team. Thus, the role of an architect in energy analysis is the same as all involved parties- to constantly facilitate the collaboration and creativity needed to solve the complex energy issues we all face, together.

Kirsten Wood of Technical Commissioning Services excellently articulated what energy analysis should mean to the architect and humanity – Architects combine functionality with aesthetics to produce structures that are pleasing to the human senses and useful. Today, that usefulness is also defined by how structures consume energy. A structure that is wasteful will not serve humanity well. Therefore, the role of architects in energy analysis is to reflect deeply on the aspects of energy efficiency and incorporate those into the design.

We’d like to thank all of you who took the time to participate in our contest. Your answers provided a real insight in how the architect’s role in energy analysis is changing, and how our software is helping facilitate this change for the better.

And once again, a big congrats to our winner Susan!

Live from AIA 2012

Posted: May 18, 2012 by , Category:Architects, events

Notes from the show floor…

I’m back from dinner and a wonderful evening in Washington, DC, and I’m sitting down to take a look at my notes from the day.

What do I think of AIA so far? I’m happy to report that the show is fantastic! There was some great traffic in the 2100 row, and we had some great conversations at the booth today. The buzz in the air was refreshing. I think the architecture industry is going to see some big things in 2012.

The theme of the show — Design Connects — is certainly something we’ve been talking about for years at IES. Early stage analysis, including solar shading and the impact of daylight levels, for example, are an important part of the whole-building design process. The understanding of how climate and building design connect as part of the key to low-energy, sustainable design is an integral part of our software, and we are excited to share this with attendees this week.

I haven’t had much time to step away from the booth and walk the floor, but I hope to check out some of the other booths today. Maybe I’ll see you?

And we’re trying to Tweet throughout the day (when the Wi-Fi is cooperating), so follow us here – @IESVE.

There is also time to enter our AIA 2012 competition, to win a one year license for our architectural analysis tool, VE-Gaia, and the VE-Navigator for LEED, and associated IESVE modules. All you have to do is answer the following question in 100 words or less:

What do you view as the Architect’s role in Energy Analysis?

Entries can be made here. Good luck!

It’s already May! Can you believe it? May! And that means just one thing for me — AIA 2012 is right around the corner.

The IES Team will be manning booth 2121 this year — and I’m very excited for what we have in store. We’ll be showcasing some of the great new updates to our software. Architects, engineers and designers will get an in-depth look at the new ways to visualize solar shading, solar arc and solar analysis with VE-Gaia and VE-Pro.

As we prepare for this year’s show, I’ve been thinking about IES’ role in architecture and how it has adapted and changed based on the trends of the industry. Energy modeling has changed the way many architects think about sustainable design. The ability to test architectural hypotheses for energy efficiency before ever laying the first brick brings a lot to the table, and more and more architects are seeing the advantages of simulation as they tackle new projects. But, just as IES adapts to a changing industry, architects do as well.

So just what is the architect’s role in energy analysis in 2012? Well, that’s what we’d like to know from you! We’re running a competition at AIA this year, and the winner will receive a free one-year license for VE-Gaia, one of the most comprehensive architectural analysis tools available. In addition, the winner will get free access to the VE-Navigator for LEED, as well as associated training.

Want to win? Just answer the question.

What do you view as the Architect’s role in Energy Analysis?

You can enter your response

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online at http://www.iesve.com/AIA2012Comp. To see other entries and for updates on the competition, follow the official hashtag — #IESCompAIA —on Twitter.

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the show! Let the countdown begin…

Believe it or not, there was a time not too long ago when cranking the air conditioning all day was cheap. So cheap, in fact, that it was financially smarter to turn down the thermostat than to invest in green upgrades for a building. I must admit, when I think about this now I’m left scratching my head. It seems….ridiculous!

But, as an article on TreeHugger.com points out, before there was air conditioning, there was shade. And, just as it always had, it worked quite well for keeping people and buildings cool. With today’s soaring energy prices, high electricity demands and the desire for greener, smarter buildings, shade is back.

Brise soleil, or sunbreakers, used to be a popular and effective way of keeping cooler before air conditioning; Like awnings, they were another way of stopping the heat from the sun before it got inside. They could be carefully designed to permit the lower winter sun to enter, and the vertical fins controlled the late afternoon sun in summer.

Ok, but how effective are products like light shelves, solar canopies and awnings? The short answer is — very. CBT Architects used IES’ VE-Pro performance analysis software to run daylight modeling for a renovation and addition to Fitchburg State University’s Science Building in 2011. Models showed that using larger overhangs on the building’s exterior would reduce reliance on air conditioning. The result was a 21 percent decrease in cooling loads during warmer months. Find out more about this project here.

Ok, so these products are pretty effective if utilized correctly. But do they look good? The short answer is yes. An architect with an eye for design can really make a building envelope pop with the right products. TreeHugger agrees.

Really, if more architects would start thinking of these as architectural features as well as simply solar control, we might actually save energy and get more interesting architecture.

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