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Countdown to Greenbuild 2012

Posted: November 8, 2012 by , Category:events, Green Building, LEED

All it takes is a quick look on Twitter using the #Greenbuild hashtag to see that not only is this the biggest green building conference in the world, but it’s also the event that brings out the most passion and creativity from within our industry.

If the green building industry had an Olympics; it would be Greenbuild. If we had a Woodstock; it would be Greenbuild. If we had a Cannes; it would be… ok I’ll stop now, you get the idea.

There is a lot going on every year at Greenbuild and this year is no exception. To find out what was planned for San Francisco and to get involved in the pre-Greenbuild conversation, we decided to create our “DaysToGB” twitter hashtag. Starting on October 14th, we’ve been using the hashtag to countdown the 30 days leading up to the main event next week.

But what have we learned counting down the days to Greenbuild? Quite a lot actually! We know the USGBC is coming full circle by heading back to its roots in San Fran and it’s an ideal location as it’s a city with green building high on the agenda. We’ve learned that attendees are spoiled for choice for what they can do with any spare time they can grab (film festival, walking tours etc), and also that this year’s event has more fantastic seminars and presentations then you could shake a stick at!

We’ve also been using #DaysToGB to share what IES have planned over the course of the conference. At booth #1732S, we’ll be sharing our recent innovations and developments which significantly help streamline and assist the LEED certification process. As a USGBC LEED Automation partner, we’ll be launching our new online LEED project management software and showcasing our software solutions for automated LEED performance credit assessments and sophisticated LEED Energy Modeling.

Our IES experts are also taking part in a number of educational presentations throughout the week; you should have at least one logged in your diary:

IS04A – Removing Barriers for International LEED Projects {Tues 13th Nov}
B06 – Energy Monitoring that Provides Meaningful Data AND Value {Wed 14th Nov}
LEED Automation Partner Presentation {Wed 14th Nov}
D13 – The Ghosts of Climate Past, Present, and Future {Thurs 15th Nov}

You can click here if you would like full details on the above sessions.

So what have you got planned for Greenbuild? There’s still time to tell us using the #DaysToGB hashtag or alternatively you can comment below.

6 #DaysToGB

green-buildingCommercial building owners are very willing to invest in energy efficient technology…as long as the government is willing to reward them for their efforts, according to the latest survey from the Institute for Building Efficiency at Johnson Controls.

While more building owners and managers are moving to cut costs and incorporate energy efficiency measures in their buildings than in previous years, tax credits, government incentives and rebates are playing a huge role. Federal government programs such as the Better Buildings Initiative are providing those incentives in an effort to make commercial buildings more energy efficient.

According to the Institute for Building Efficiency survey:
The sixth annual survey found 85% rely on energy management to drive their operational efficiency, up 34 percentage points from the Energy Efficiency Indicator survey conducted two years ago.

This is both good and bad news for the sustainable building industry, and here’s why. The obvious good news is that energy efficient building is on the rise — we’ve seen this over the last decade and market share continues to confirm this. But the results of this survey beg the question: what happens when the rug is pulled out from underneath programs that offer incentives and tax credits?

“Nearly 75% of commercial buildings in the United States are more than 20 years old and are ready for energy improvements,” said Dave Myers, president of the building efficiency business of Johnson Controls. “Building owners and operators are looking to lawmakers to bring down the cost of energy retrofits through incentives and rebates.”

As sustainable building technology continues to advance, education is going to play a large role. When building owners and managers begin to understand that they can drastically cut costs and decrease overhead with efficiency upgrades, tax incentives will be a relatively small side note. This understanding will be essential to tomorrow’s sustainable building industry.

I don’t think it’s safe to rely on government policy forever. At some point, the well will run dry and policies will change. But even without government incentives, there are still plenty of reasons why building owners should be capitalizing on efficiency upgrades. We just need to let them know about it!

The largest and most significant sustainability project ever undertaken for an existing building is underway. Officials announced big plans for Chicago’s Sears Tower — some of which have never been seen before — and I for one am very excited to see new technology and innovation at its finest.

An article in GreenProgress.com dives into some of the more intricate details of the plan, but the overall goal is to reduce base building electricity by a whopping 80 percent. A combination of energy-saving upgrades and co-generation will create a reduction in energy consumption equivalent to 68 million kilowatt hours annually. Need some perspective on that astounding number? That’s about 150,000 barrels of oil a year!

Here are a few of my favorite aspects of the project:
– Mechanical systems upgrades in the form of new gas boilers that utilize fuel cell technologies, which generate electricity, heating and cooling at as much as 90 percent efficiency.
– Lighting that will be upgraded through advanced lighting control systems and daylight harvesting, automatically dimming lights in tenant spaces based on the amount of sunlight entering through the windows.
– Efficiency improvements to the building’s exterior envelope and windows
But coolness factor aside, this project represents more than just reduced CO2 emissions and energy savings; it’s a chance to educate a massive audience. With thousands of tourists flocking to the building every day, the project will feature a dynamic Sustainable Technology Learning Center that is designed to help building visitors and Chicago tourists learn about ways to save energy and money. It will demonstrate to the world how a sustainability program for an existing building can be accomplished.

“The Sears Tower energy sustainability and environmental education project presents a tremendous opportunity for inspiring building owners and the public to aspire to the highest standards of energy-efficiency.”

A project of this magnitude is going to open doors, both for the green building industry and the general public. While I’m very excited to see the end result, I’m more excited about what this means for green building in the United States as a whole.

Training Road Show Recap

Posted: January 5, 2012 by , Category:Training

2011 was a busy year for IES! We made some upgrades to our award-winning software, consulted with a number of architects and engineers on some exciting projects, and we launched a series of training sessions and architectural seminars throughout North America. These Road Show events proved to be successful, and something we plan to continue in 2012. But for now, a recap…

Starting off in Chicago and Denver in August, our Road Show carried on to Portland, Vancouver, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, Houston and other great cities across North America through the rest of the year. Our Road Show gave us a great opportunity to connect with both existing and new IES users face-to-face. We were able to show them capabilities of the software, including many of the new features launched this year, and answer any questions they might have about our suite of products. We were also able to establish relationships with various local groups, and we love all the contacts we’ve made throughout North American this year!

Our final training event of the year was in Washington, D.C. last week. There were a lot of new faces, and we had a very successful event. Thanks to our hosts at AECOM!

Also in D.C. last week was our final architectural seminar of the year. Approved by the AIA for Continuing Education System credits, our seminars offer hands-on training focusing on conceptual analysis in sustainable design. Participants who are AIA members receive 2.5 learning unit hours.

Thanks to everyone that joined us this year, and to all of our customers and partners who helped us out with venues and our presentations. We’re looking forward to meeting more of you in 2012 as we continue to hit the road. Next year, we’re heading to Omaha, Seattle, Kansas City, Nashville, St. Louis, Birmingham and more. Stay tuned for more details about when we’ll be in a city near you!

Now that Green Building Week has drawn to a close I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on the event we held last Monday — Environmental Modelling for a Low Carbon Scotland. Our ‘thought trees’ certainly got the discussion started (I’ll go into the feedback received later on) and the after seminar question & answer session was fierce. But what was clear, was the huge interest in better understanding how computer modelling (or building performance simulation) can deliver more sustainable buildings, and even cities.

We started the evening with a kind introduction from Lori McElroy Sust. Programme Director for Architecture+Design Scotland, followed by a short presentation from Dr Don McLean Founder and MD of IES. Covering the current state of play in the use of simulation for low-carbon design, Don started by celebrating the world leading status of the UK — “From recent trips to the US I’d say they are at least 5-10 years behind us in terms of thinking and they certainly turn to those companies with a UK presence for experience.” Then looking to the future he explored some of the research areas IES is currently involved.

David McNeill, Technical Director of Buro Happold gave the main presentation of the evening. Kick started with a look at how Victorian design techniques used many passive elements such as central circular openings high up to vent heat and introduce daylight. He then took us an a whistle stop tour around the Riverside Museum, the Burns Museum, Queens University Belfast and Saudi Arabia, looking at how different areas of simulation were used on each project to prove or disprove concepts and stretch design boundaries.

Quote of the night from him “Sometimes you do a model and it proves things don’t work but better to do it then than find out when you build it in real life.”

A lively question and answer session followed the presentations which we eventually had to wind down in order to give us some time to enjoy the wine and canapes. The interest in where the future of performance analysis could take us was exciting; with concepts around analysis for eco-cities being discussed through to how to effectively bring design and operational modelling closer together and integrate this with FM process and building controls.

The prize for controversial question of the evening goes to Colin Donald of the Glasgow Herald. Referring to the Riverside Museum he asked; “So did Zaha Hadid have any kind of idea the impact a 30m high glass wall would have?” The answer? In essence, shortening a long response down, the clear vision and understanding of the curators regarding the internal conditions required and computer modelling allowed the design vision to be effectively created to perform well.

You can watch a video of the seminars here and review some of the tweets from the evening using the event hashtag #lowCO2scot11.

So that just leaves us the ‘Thought Trees’ which were dotted around the venue asking key questions about sustainability in Scotland. A big thanks to Urban Realm which supplied one of the questions. A selection of the responses received are below. What are your thoughts? Please add your comments below and keep the discussion going.

What’s the biggest sustainably challenge you’re facing?
– The gap between design and operational targets and modelling. Although IES can do operational modelling, Building Standards still claim that they specify all assets, whereas they only specify elements of the assets – the specification gap arises. The emphasis of all those talking about projects they have done should be to discuss the actual energy in operation, not the design targets; I have yet to see an architect quote actual energy consumption. Bring on DECs.
– The expectations of the people within them. We have seen a dramatic inflation in people’s expectations of the environment in a building. While the demands are for 23-25 C so that people can walk in their shorts at home at any time of year is excessive. Halogen lights on everywhere, a fridge in the kitchen and beer fridge in the garage and so on.

What’s your top sustainability goal?
– Educate your building users to operate buildings efficiency and to take ownership and interact
– To have buildings designed and built to last — not just low energy or sustainable for the current day

Tell us something about Scotland which you think makes it easier achieve energy reductions in buildings?
– Our temperate environment
– We wear jumpers inside
– Wind power

Urban Realm Question: How best can Scotland’s existing buildings be retro-fitted to meet 21st century environmental standards?

– I see lots of new/refurbished buildings consuming more energy than before due to: dark ceilings or ceilings not lit so people increase light levels to make it feel brighter; higher light levels than needed; daylighting not being used to optimally offset artificial lighting requirements (floor to ceiling)- leading to higher heat losses in winter and solar gains in summer; high solar gains in summer leading to air conditioning; high external light levels; high distribution heat losses and standing losses of boilers; underfloor heating designed to operate at too high a temperature and without heavy weight building; controls that do not allow a deadband — so it’s either heating or cooling; no means of heat escape at high level, with windows opening lower down, leading to A/C requirements; server rooms having A/C as standard and so on. These are all asset issues, not due to occupation.

– The challenge for refurbishment is understanding the whole building. We need to learn the lessons across the new build to understand the limitations of a refurbishment.

Here’s looking forward to next year’s event…

Every year, The Princeton Review issues ranking lists for colleges and universities. Everything from ‘Best Career Services’ to ‘Top Party School’ (this list always gets quite the online buzz).

And for the past two years, The Princeton Review has added a ‘Guide to Green Colleges.’

The second annual Green Colleges guide was compiled in response to growing interest among students and families in how universities are making their campuses and curricula more sustainable.

“College-bound students are increasingly interested in sustainability issues,” said Robert Franek, Senior VP, Publishing, The Princeton Review. “Among 8,200 college applicants who participated in our spring 2011 ‘College Hopes & Worries Survey,’ nearly 7 out of 10 (69%) told us that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school.”

Each profile within the guide features “Green Facts,” showcasing the school’s recycling, use of renewable energy, and conservation programs.

Nationwide, there is a growing interest in sustainability among teenagers, and this is translated in their desire to attend a university that offers not only excellent curriculum, but a focus on the future. At a time when getting into a university, any university, is becoming more competitive, it’s interesting to see the shift in thinking as students look to apply to schools.

As universities continue to jump into sustainability and offer more design courses and majors in these growing fields, it will be interesting to see how the ‘Guide to Green Colleges’ evolves. Maybe one day it will be the most talked about ranking from The Princeton Review every year. Although there will always be the party list…

In case you missed it, IES is offering colleges and universities around the globe free Academic Licenses for our early stage analysis tool VE-Gaia. This is an ideal opportunity for educators to embed sustainable analysis into their curriculum. Any institution offering Architectural or Sustainable Design courses will find this tool invaluable, as students continue to look to sustainable design as a career choice.

IES Faculty comes to Ravensbourne

Posted: June 28, 2011 by , Category:events


When booking a venue for an event there is always certain factors that must be taken into consideration — location, capacity, availability and cost (no getting away from it in this current climate). But when we were looking for a venue in London to host the second of our free educational seminars, IES Faculty, we were also looking for somewhere that offered a certain je ne sais quoi. Being that the latest Faculty session is for Architects, we wanted to find a place that both promoted and reflected the inventiveness and originality of modern architecture.

We came across such a venue in Ravensbourne digital college. The building was designed by Foreign Office Architects and is a technology driven location which has been built to stimulate creativity. We were also impressed by the green credentials of the building, as Ravensbourne has invested heavily in the sustainability of the venue with a green roof, solar water heating and biomass boiler. The building has achieved an impressive BREEAM Excellent status.

So what do we have in store for architects coming to IES Faculty on the 12th of July? In just a few hours we’ll show you how our solutions can help you enhance architectural design and productivity. See how to quickly produce early stage sustainability reports using our revolutionary architectural analysis tool, get up to date with our integration with Google SketchUpâ„¢ and be introduced to our new innovative step-by-step BREEAM Assessment tool. You can get more information and sign up on our website.

Last week, we

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were invited to present at the Seattle Energy & Design Roundtable (SEDR) meeting. SEDR is a Seattle-based group of architects, engineers and other design professionals interested in energy efficient design and renewable energy in buildings. The group hosts monthly presentations that address energy and design related topics, including software tools, design methods and case studies.

Last week’s session was entitled, “Using IES Energy Modeling to meet the 2030 Challenge.” I was able to present an overview of the VE from VE-Ware all the way through VE-Pro, showing a project in the early phase design all the way through project completion and submittal to rating authorities.

But the best part of the presentation was when Dan Munn and Matt Glassman of DLR Group presented their first-hand experiences using VE-Gaia. DLR Group uses IES software for early phase design to help architects reach their Architecture 2030 goals. Dan and Matt were able to share how the team at DLR Group is able to do 7-hour energy modelling at early stages, using tools like the VE to educate architects on how to do it.

It’s certainly the highlight of my day when I can see the fruits of our labor at IES come to life on screen.

The event was a great opportunity for attendees to see real results of how our software has been implemented by users, and to ask questions in real-time. We also have a video of the presentation that we will post on the IESVE YouTube channel soon.

I got the red eye out of Glasgow to arrive at this year’s Ecobuild exhibition a few hours out of its opening, and still feeling guilty about taking the plane instead of the train I entered the new location of ExCel right next to City airport (there really was no contest in ease of travel!). The anticipation in the air was palatable! What would this year bring? Would the move to ExCel work? Would the visitors come?

Having attended a similar show Greenbuild in Chicago in November last year for a disappointing 28,000 visitors (down from the estimated 40,000) we had no idea what to expect here…

…and WOW what a difference — in all honesty last year’s Ecobuild had felt stale and just a bit depressing, even with the 41,000 visitors — exactly like the market in general. But this year spring was in the air and optimism abounded.

Ecobuild has finally arrived — It has been called “the world’s biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment and the UK’s largest construction event of any kind” for a while now. However, this year it well and truly lived up to that expectation.  Plus, the international element was noticeably out in force with visitors and exhibitors from all over Europe and the rest of the world (maybe the close proximity to an international airport helped…).

In addition, the demise of Interbuild aka BEST was announced just prior to the show (for all you non-UK readers this was the UK construction industry’s behemoth show for many years). The obvious conclusion being that our construction industry is all about sustainability now — it’s the norm! An interesting problem for Ecobuild going forward will be how it keeps this specialisation and sustainable building innovation at the core of the show, while embracing the great news that the industry has well and truly changed its outlook over the last 5 years. Back then the show only had 500 visitors, this year an estimated 50,000 came through the doors!

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view), I was stuck on our stand for most of the show helping to speak to all you lovely performance analysis enthusiasts, and consequently I didn’t make it too much of the show, let alone any of the seminars. My lifesaver was @PazzaArchitect who did a sterling job of keeping the #Ecobuild twitterarti up to date with live session tweeting. Plus GAB (Green Architecture & Building) Report has undertaken a fantastic report of the show floor. Check out all tweets with the #Ecobuild hastag for a review of the show and loads of funny pics ranging from the Dulux Dog to the Mr S&G Superhero at WhatTheHastag.

So what did we get up to then? Interest from the non-converted IESVEers was definitely up, especially in the architect arena with many seeking us out from among the 1,300 exhibitors. And for them we were offering a 2 for 1 special offer on our newly revamped VE-Gaia tool. If you’ve ever wanted to incorporate sustainable performance analysis into your design process right from the beginning this is the tool for you. Climate, LZCT, Energy, Daylight and much more…

Then on the UK Building Regulations side we launched our unique new guided VE-Navigator for UK Compliance 2010 for new-build compliance and EPC creation. Visitors were able to discover the time saving, facilitation and QA functionality it offers at live demos on stand. Plus, three new software packs from as little as £320 per quarter we launched to offer our customers a range of flexible DSM/SBEM & EPC solutions.

Our very own David McEwan was recorded talking about our presence at the show and plans over the coming year — listen to it here on Audioboo.

Then our very own IES Faculty educational series of free events was launched which will cover a wide range of performance analysis topics — book now if you want to attend places are filling up fast!! The first session is a Modelling Masterclass scheduled for the 21st March in London.

Plus Richard Qunicey of IES and Tristan Kershaw from the University of Exeter’s Centre for Energy and the Environment presented at the UKGBC Big Tent on the village Green on ‘Is Adaptation our industry blind spot?’ Can climate data help buildings cope over the long term? The Prometheus research project was covered to analyze how weather data lets you assess a building’s ability to adapt to climate change.

Phew what a busy week!! Finally thanks you to all for your interest, enthusiasm, wit and inquisitive nature. See you there next year!!

Reading, Writing and Sustainability

Posted: November 17, 2010 by , Category:careers, Environment

Are your kids going to a brand new LEED certified school? Probably not, but the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) recently announced a new program, the Center for Green Schools. This new initiative is encouraging both the construction of new schools to be LEED certified as well as existing schools to make repairs with sustainability as a main component. As this program looks to green our schools, it realizes it won’t be an overnight process so before making large scale changes it is offering some easier options for older schools, like using green cleaning products or changing air filters.

“The education sector is doing more in the way of green building than any other sector, more than health care, more than commercial, more than religious institutions. But we still have a really long way to go,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the USGBC’s new initiative.

Along with helping schools build a greener facility, the Center for Green Schools is also looking to educate teachers so they are able to implement sustainability lessons into their classes. The thought behind this is if students learn sustainability at a younger age, just as they do with languages, they will be able to retain the information more easily.

The USGBC is looking for all of our children to attend greener schools by the end of this generation. Do you think this is possible?


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