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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.

Sustainability – The New Olympic Event

Posted: August 2, 2012 by , Category:Sustainability

The Olympics are underway, so it only seems appropriate to once again check in on London’s sustainability promise of hosting the greenest games to date. The verdict? A little friendly sustainability competition between host cities goes a long way.

London has not disappointed in its green building initiatives so far. From water reclamation to natural lighting, this year’s venues incorporate various techniques and designs to create sustainability. With these structures getting so much publicity, you can be sure the designers virtually tested models of these buildings to ensure performance would live up to expectations.

One of the most impressive buildings in these games is the Velodrome, which contains the indoor cycling track. It utilizes natural ventilation to cool the 6,000 fans cheering for their country. This, along with its use of natural daylighting to cut power consumption and the unique design of

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the roof, makes it the poster-child for sustainability.

Every year there is a growing trend not only for the host country to beat out others in the race for the most medals, but to also beat the previous hosting cities in sustainability. This is great for increasing awareness of green building. New sports stadiums are also helping to push this message by embracing energy efficient technologies. These projects get an abundant amount of news coverage during construction and are automatically going to be benchmarked against the last green venue that was built. With hundreds of thousands of patriotic fans flooding into the host country a spike in energy consumption and CO2 output is all but guaranteed.

With the next Olympics taking place in Rio in 2016, the eyes of the world will be watching to see if the next hosts can match the sustainable construction that has taken place on the lead up to London 2012. Let the sustainability games 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.

Does going for LEED make good business sense?

Posted: January 19, 2012 by , Category:LEED

Another year, another blog about LEED

There’s never a shortage of opinions when you bring up the topic of LEED.

Last year, we blogged about whether or not LEED certification was working, questioning the goals of the program. We decided that if the goal is to increase awareness for better design and sustainability, regardless of whether or not a building ultimately achieves certification, then the program is succeeding. The way we see it, a better building is a better building, certification or not.

After reading a recent article in the Orlando Sentinel, the question of whether or not “going green” impacts a business was one I thought I’d weigh in on.

The Headquarter Honda dealership in Florida is LEED Platinum. Only nine other buildings in the state – all of them constructed for educational, military, aerospace or government purposes – share this rating. An exceptional accomplishment when you look at it comparatively. But as Kevin questions, “Does securing that mark of planet-friendly excellence help sell Accords, Civics and Odysseys?”

Maybe not. But for the owner of the dealership, the energy savings alone seem to be worth the certification. “According to estimates based on more than a year’s worth of utility bills, the 30 percent premium will be recouped in a decade, Esteve said, which in the long run will make the building cheaper to own than one with a more conventional design.”

I’m not going to tell you that LEED certification is a necessity for every building. But I do think you should consider the requirements as part of your building process. If nothing else, a focus on implementing various energy-saving technologies and being aware of factors such as daylighting and the like will ensure a building will be viable for many years to come. LEED Platinum or not, that’s something we can all appreciate.

IES Presents at Denver Revit Users Group

Posted: January 17, 2012 by , Category:BIM, events

IES sat down with 16 architects, engineers and contractors at the Denver Revit Users Group last Thursday for a roundtable discussion. The result? Some great conversation about how best to utilize Building Information Modeling, a sustainable building analysis tool.

IES worked with Colorado-based Ambient Energy, a building performance and sustainable design consulting company, to showcase some of BIM’s more practical uses. The relatively new technology doesn’t just spit out data and geometric designs anymore. More and more often, we are seeing BIM taking on a different role. The spatial relationships and geographic information can help architects and engineers out in a big way; from daylight penetration to average temperature and wind direction, analysis software is an integral part of sustainable design.

An IES and Ambient Energy project at Colorado State University in 2011 proved the point. Faced with the challenge of designing a more efficient atrium for the school’s Engineering II building, Ambient Energy consultants used IES’ VE-Pro software to test and verify their various energy efficiency concepts. Daylight and mixed mode ventilation analyses run early in the schematic redesign process determined which window and ventilation solutions would work best with maximized use of natural daylight. The end result was a more efficient atrium with a much smaller carbon output. You can view the video case study for this project on the IESVE YouTube page.

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a lot more of as sustainable design continues to work its way into the commercial space.

Just adding a few LED lightbulbs and a low flow toilet does not a sustainable building make. Yes, you will save energy and money over the course of time with these eco-friendly choices, but the most important choices are the ones you make before you even break ground on the building.

Consider this:
During the lifetime of a building, the initial investment of construction represents 20 percent of overall cost. A company will incur the heft of the building’s expense – 80 percent – through its operating cost, says Cary Gampher, of AIA and principal architect with The Architects Alliance. To minimize the weight of that 80 percent, utilizing sustainable design for a commercial remodel or construction is about more than making a few environmentally friendly choices.

{Taken from Jefferson City Magazine}

Looking at these numbers, it’s clear that the actual cost to construct a building is small compared to the lifetime of expenses a building owner will incur. Take, for example, natural light within a building. The impact of lighting on energy usage is enormous. Visual comfort, glare, solar irradiance — these are all factors to consider when positioning a building.

Using an early-stage analysis tool such as our VE-Pro can show you the results of positioning at different times of the year, at different times of day under multiple conditions. Looking at daylighting is also an important consideration to LEED requirements (EQc8.1).

Using advanced simulation and incorporating energy analysis into the entire design process, changes to the design of the building can be made early and often. And that’s how building owners will save on the 80% of the building expenses over the lifetime of the building. But you’ve got to do it from the very beginning.

This month’s question and answer comes directly from a discussion that was taking place on our LinkedIn IES VE user

group. The group acts as a great platform for users to share their knowledge, experience and opinions and we have recently reached over 1,000 members (Go us!). The question that features in this edition comes from Ciaran McCabe, a thermal modelling consultant using the VE in Ireland. The answers were kindly provided by Rosemary, our BREEAM expert.

Do you guys tend to use IES VE Radiance or Flucs DL to measure daylight factor and uniformity to demonstrate compliance with BREEAM HEA 1? Flucs DL is a much faster module to use on larger buildings. Any opinions on this topic welcome.

We would tend to use FlucsDL for large buildings as all the rooms can be analysed at once. For BREEAM I would recommend that you set up rooms groups so that you have “occupied” and “unoccupied” rooms grouped together. The “occupied” rooms can then be selected and average daylight factors/uniformity output produced.

I now see there is a new feature in Flucs DL which deals with Sky View. Sky view at 0.7m is one way of demonstrating compliance with BREEAM Hea 1 – Daylighting. I was just having a play around with this recently and wondered if this feature is fully operational or is it still being tested. Is there any documention on how the VE calculates sky view? I suppose what I am getting at here is if I was to use this feature I would need some way to validate the result.

Sky View was included in FlucsPro and FlucsDL for BREEAM HEA1 Daylighting purposes; however it is active whenever you have performed a daylight calculation. If there is a direct line from any point on the sky grid to any point on the working plane grid (through windows and openings but without passing through any obstruction) then that point has a sky view of 1. If not it has a sky view of 0. Using a threshold value of, say, 0.5 will allow you to see the percentage area with a sky view. It is easier to see the levels if you are not in contour view (choose filled contours or grey-scale instead).

To have your question featured in our monthly Questions & AEC series, just get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook or drop me an email at john.goucher@iesve.com.

Join IES at SimBuild 2010

Posted: July 20, 2010 by , Category:Uncategorized

SimBuild 2010 in New York is right around the corner now – August 11-13 – and it’s not a moment too soon. SimBuild is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, building modeling and simulation conferences in the world. It only happens once every two years, so we anxiously look forward to everything that goes on there when it comes around. We also have plenty in store for this event, too.

IES is sponsoring the show, and that gives us the chance to offer some extra training sessions to attendees. We will be holding two workshops prior to the show. Here’s the schedule:

  • August 9 — Intermediate 3D Modeling, Daylighting, Loads Analysis, and HVAC Systems
  • August 10 — Advanced and Building-Integrated Systems Modeling

Both workshops are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., including lunch and breaks, and will be held on the NYU campus (exact location TBA).

Timothy Moore, our Senior Consultant for Special Projects, will be on hand to direct the workshops and show you the expanse of things you can do with IES <Virtual Environment> Version 6.1, such as importing from SketchUp and Revit, daylighting simulation and whole-building energy modeling for the LEED/ASHRAE-90.1 Performance Rating Method.

Cost for the workshops is $350 for one session and $600 for both. Registration is open now, but seats are limited, so don’t wait!

We will also have a demo of IES <VE> at the show on August 12 from 10:30-11:45 a.m., and Timothy will be making a presentation at the show as well (details still TBD).

Of course, our activities are just a small slice of all the exciting things going on at SimBuild this year, from all the workshops and presentations to the banquet that closes everything out. For more on all that’s going on, visit here.

It’s shaping up to be a busy week for IES at SimBuild 2010. We hope to see you in New York City!

One of the key challenges facing today’s building designers is understanding and tackling how to incorporate sustainable design principles into existing workflows and processes.

A ‘good design is sustainable design’ ethos promoted by quantitative analysis can make a great impact. Architects get quick environmental feedback on design iterations and environmental engineers can input more into the design. Achieving this kind of effective collaboration and cross-discipline understanding, in my opinion is core to achieving truly sustainable, energy-efficient building design.

The advent of BIM (Building Information Modeling), and better integration between analysis and design tools, is helping push this more integrated, information sharing approach to design team working. In particular, the Green Building XML schema, referred to as “gbXML”, was developed to facilitate information transfer from building information models to design/energy performance analysis tools.

We’ve working hard at IES to drive such integration by developing plug-ins that link our tiered suite of analysis tools to Revit Architecture, Revit MEP and Google SketchUp so users can build their designs in Revit or SketchUp and then easily translate and analyze  them in an iterative fashion. gbXML was used to streamline the data flow from Revit to the IES <Virtual Environment> in the IES VE Revit Plug-in.

An Integrative Design Process (IDP) is a collaborative approach to building design which places a strong emphasis on cross-team integration throughout the development process in pursuit of a ‘whole building’ holistic design. But where does it start and what does it really mean? How can the range of IES <VE> software tools be used to assist in the design process?

In conventional building design a project develops through a strict and rigid chain of milestones and hand-offs e.g. owner requirements to architect, architect’s concept to structural engineer, structural design to MEP engineer etc.

This conventional process means that key members of the design team are often excluded from the initial planning stage, and with the lack of their expert knowledge and insight the project can progress down the wrong path for a significant period of time before serious underlying problems are identified. This leads to inefficiency; higher capital costs, time delays, over-sized HVAC etc.

With an Integrative Design Process (IDP) all key members of the multi-disciplinary design team are included at the very beginning of the planning stage, from the initial conception of the building itself. In this way all major design decisions can be carefully considered in relation to other disciplines right from the outset. This avoids abortive work resulting from single-minded decisions and increases overall project efficiency.

So where does building performance analysis fit-in?

The IES <VE> platform provides a unique set of analysis tools that allow building performance analysis to be used throughout every stage of the project, from concept to completion. An experienced <VE> engineer becomes an integral member of the IDP team and can really help drive the design to meet aggressive sustainability targets and objectives.

Let’s look at the lifecycle of a typical project and how the <VE> could be used at each stage:


Concept: VE-Ware and VE-Toolkits used with Google SketchUp ‘massing’ models of various design options and iterations to determine performance characteristics: climate metrics, optimum site orientation, daylight feasibility, ballpark energy estimates etc.

Scheme: Findings from Concept analysis used to select the ‘optimum’ design solution which is then progressed to schematic stage. VE-Toolkits and VE-Gaia used to enhance the basic design i.e. optimize; shading, building envelope, daylight, energy etc

Detail: Enhanced model from Scheme design is driven more aggressively with VE-Gaia and VE-Pro to extract further energy savings i.e. optimize; HVAC plant selection (right-sizing), electric lighting dimming control strategy, zone set-back temperatures, boiler/chiller optimum start/stop etc.

Construction: Findings from Detail analysis input to Construction Documentation and the optimized Detail model is then
updated with ‘As-Built’ information. This ensures that the specified design has actually been installed i.e. do pressure test results match the design infiltration rates, are installed plant efficiencies and SFP’s as per the MEP spec, has the glazing data specified(u-value, SC etc.) actually been installed? Comparative VE-Pro analyses conducted to benchmark Design vs As-Built

Commissioning: Findings from Construction comparison used to drive Quality Assurance (QA) checks in order to identify areas that are not installed and performing as per design. Detailed <VE> room loads can be used to assist in production of Commissioning Documentation and for balancing calculations for duct and pipework systems.

Operation: 6months to 1yr after completion recorded BMS readings can be compared against the As-Built Construction model. Comparative analysis is used to determine areas of the building and associated HVAC plant which are not performing as per design. The building FM team continues to monitor BMS vs Model readings, making site changes where necessary to ensure that the building operates at optimum performance.

This example illustrates how the building performance analysis can be used to fully support an Integrative Design Process. By utilizing the unique four-tiered <VE> approach (VE-Ware, VE-Toolkits, VE-Gaia and VE-Pro) there is an analysis tool for every occasion which can be closely aligned with the sustainability objectives of the project in order to realize the maximum potential.

Through the use of the Google SketchUp based conceptual <VE> analysis tools a building’s energy and carbon footprint can be optimized from the initial outset of the project, before it has a chance to progress down a wrong path. By getting involved early more aggressive energy and sustainability targets can be met and realized such as LEED Platinum, Estidama 5-Pearl, BREEAM Outstanding etc

But the use of performance analysis tools at concept stage alone is not enough on to reach these higher objectives. Aggressive targets mean that an aggressive modeling strategy must be used an continued throughout the project from concept to completion. This is the only way of designing buildings that are truly ‘green’ and is the only way of taking the Integrative Design Process to ‘Infinity and Beyond’.

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