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Pulkovo Airport Terminal 1
Being a co-founder and CEO of the Russian Green Building Council and co-founder and board member for GBCs in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, I was delighted to have the opportunity to join the IES team in July as a Business Development Manager for the European Division in Russia. I am excited to share my great love for building modelling and to encourage others to adopt IES technology to create high quality interior environments, maximise building performance and optimise energy use.

When the Russian GBC was founded in 2009 there was not one single Green Building project in the Russian Federation. Today, a whole industry has been formed, bringing together Russian and international property owners, investors and solution providers. There are now around 100 green building projects in Russia, including some of the largest green building projects in the world, for example, Sochi 2014, FIFA 2018 and World Expo 2017.

A few weeks back I was joined by IES European Division Head, Michelle Farrell, and IESVE resellers, Buro Ecoseven, in Moscow for 3 days of activities to promote the use of the VE. The Russian-speaking countries are fascinated by building modelling and BIM in general and so I was pleased to see that the response to these events was strong with interest coming from engineers, architects, students and the green building community.

Over 300 professionals tune in to Webinar
The first main event of the week took the form of a Russian-language webinar held in Moscow with the Russian ASHRAE Association (ABOK). The webinar attracted an impressive turnout of over 300 online participants, from 67 cities and 13 countries around the world. The session comprised of 90 minute presentations made by Michelle and Sergey Zhukovsky (CEO, Buro Ecoseven) giving an overview of the VE’s capabilities in addition to some case studies. Participant engagement was high and we were pleased to see plenty of questions being asked by the attendees. The webinar was a first for Sergey, who felt that “it was a great success and very powerful.”

Architectural students look to IESVE
Students from three leading Universities then came together for another of the events to listen to Michelle and I present IESVE at the newly opened Eco School in Kuskovo Park, Moscow. The event was organised by the City of Moscow’s Department for the Environment, who are organising a public design competition for a visitor centre and masterplan for a nature park in Moscow. We were both impressed by the turnout and interest; many of the students are advanced users of CAD programs and the support from the city authorities in organising the event was top notch.

Guy-and-Michelle

Guy and Michelle meet students at the Eco School in Kuskovo Park, Moscow.

Since joining the Russian and Azerbaijan GBCs, IES has been active in these growing markets for LEED and BREEAM projects. I am proud of my new role at IES and love their approach to sustainability. The VE has so much potential, not only to become the main tool needed for architects and engineers in new and retrofit green projects, but also to allow owners and users to clearly monitor energy and water use, temperatures, CO2 and daylight levels to unprecedented levels to bridge the performance gap. Eastern Europe is quickly adopting green building and therefore offers IES substantial opportunities. I have already started to connect major potential users of the software and consultancy services to IES and its resellers and look forward to growing the use of IES technology in Russia and other European markets.

Interested in finding out more about these developments and how you can benefit from using the VE? Drop me an email to connect and find out more.

Gone are the days when energy data for private buildings was, well, private — at least in some cities.

Mandatory policies regarding the release of energy data for the private sector are becoming more and more popular. New York City is the first to release its results consisting of 2,065 large commercial properties. This report is part of New York’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, which focuses on energy efficiency in the city’s commercial buildings. According to EnvironmentalLeader.com, this plan consists of four different regulations, one of which is Local Law 84 requiring commercial buildings to benchmark their water and energy use. The data collected also goes towards the PlaNYC goal of reducing citywide carbon emissions.

This is the first time any city, state or county has released this kind of information, and I’m taking it as a step in the right direction. The report contains interesting information which may have us rethinking the types of spaces that should focus on energy efficiency.

The data displays information on energy usage per square foot, greenhouse gas emissions, water usage per square foot, and more. The New York City Local Law 84 Benchmarking report shows that large buildings are responsible for 45 percent of New York City’s carbon emissions. By monitoring energy use, that number can be reduced.

So what can we take away from this? New York is beginning to realize that it is crucial to improve existing buildings, not just new ones. Energy modeling can have a hand in improving both. While the larger buildings typically have more financial resources to take on energy upgrades, modeling can assist smaller buildings for a fairly low cost, allowing building owners to hone in on specific factors and improvements such as ventilation, solar heat gain and even building envelope.

Focusing on these structures will have a large impact on the city according to the New York City Local Law 84 Benchmarking Report, which states that if all inefficient large buildings were brought up just to the median energy use intensity in their category, NYC inhabitants would reduce their energy consumption by 18 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. And that’s just by doing the minimum!

When it came to writing this World Green Building Week blog the resounding thought I had was — blimey, it’s September already and a year has passed since the last World Green Building Week! But as the great proverb says; “Time and World Green Building Week wait for no man”…

But putting the concept of time aside, after the success of the WGBW event (Environmental Modelling for a Low Carbon Scotland) we hosted last year in Glasgow, we have decided to do it all again this year in Central London on Tuesday 18th September.

Our event this year, which is part of our free Faculty series, will bring together a selection our partners (Davis Langdon, BRE, Daikin, Monodraught) to share our vision of “Virtual Building Models: Driving Measurable Change for Sustainable Built Environments“. By bringing together our expanding partnership programme we want to demonstrate the power of Virtual Building technology to not only reduce carbon impact, but to also substantially reduce costs across the whole building lifecycle.

Commercial buildings utilise more than 42 per cent of all electricity produced, yet waste up to 50 per cent. It is clear that looking at innovative ways to manage energy use throughout the building portfolio offers very substantial savings. Furthermore organisations need to urgently adapt from ‘business as usual’ if they are to meet CSR targets, and comply with current and future environmental legislation, whilst ensuring on-going reliability and investment value of building stock.

In addition, the costs to operate and maintain building stock look set to rise even further. These increases arise from; new expenses associated with environmental legislation, rising fuel costs, the impact of climate change, and increasing energy demands — all external factors over which management has little control.

We believe that the application of Virtual Building technology from design, through construction & commissioning on into operation and renovation/adaptation offers a 3D platform upon which Smart building principles can be built. At next week’s event we will demonstrate through a number of practical and educational sessions how projects and research we are involved can be used in your day-to-day, and how it’s all starting to join-up:

– Software partners are addressing connectivity between Virtual Building and CAD/BIM platforms
– Product manufacturers are testing & verifying performance, creating user tools and undertaking due diligence to cut through greenwash and prove effectiveness of innovative systems virtually
– Research partners are working with us to expand technology horizons
– Rating systems partners are leveraging our technology to facilitate compliance and investigate alternative routes

If you don’t already know, World Green Building Week is held annually to highlight the importance of sustainable buildings for businesses, communities and individuals across the world and this year it takes place from 17th — 21st September. This year’s theme is “Green Building for Great Communities” and we believe that Virtual Building technology can help support the creation of great communities through:

Thinking Healthy: Making buildings for people with better indoor environments and air quality etc.
Thinking Wide:
Connecting the building to natural systems and aligning tech systems across multiple buildings
Thinking Long: Creating lasting value by setting clear performance targets, incorporating future-proofing and ongoing monitoring of building operations to optimize long-term performance, while creating transparency throughout the building lifecycle
Thinking Connected: Collaborating at every stage and integrating design teams, stakeholdersand industry, government etc.
Thinking Big: Acting now for a greener, healthier community

So if you’re in the London area next Tuesday make sure you come along and join us for this free event. If you want to find out more details about what’s happening on the day and book your place, head over to our website.

Sustainable cities and net-zero buildings are great buzz words for the green building industry. But it seems like every major city in the world is using these words to treat sustainability like a competition. They are creating plans to be energy efficient, to implement retrofits and to have zero waste within the next 10, 20, 40 years. This is great for the green building industry, but a word of caution — let’s be smart with our spending and avoid wasting money.

Big goals require big results and create pressure to meet those set goals. It’s important that the industry doesn’t fall victim to the pressure of bigger projects and loftier goals than can realistically be accomplished. Here’s a look at some cities that are truly setting the bar high, according to C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group:

– Seoul plans to retrofit 10,000 buildings by 2030.
– Austin has a zero-waste plan for 2040.
– Tokyo is introducing higher energy efficiency standards for large urban developments.
– São Paulo plans to reduce the use of fossil fuel on public transportation by 10 percent each year, aiming for 100 percent use of renewable fuels by 2017.

When it comes to the sustainable eco cities of tomorrow, it’s easy to have good intentions but miss the mark. That’s what new technology and gadgets can do to us sometimes — we get caught up in the hype and shoot for the stars.  We expect that because a particular product is new to market or a particular sustainability strategy is innovative, it’s a no-brainer to not only implement it but to use it to exceed our wildest green expectations. When the goals are set high, the stakes are high. It’s easy to fall victim.

At Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, for example, CBT architects had some extra room in their budget when designing the school’s new science building. They looked into upgrading the windows to a new model that was designed to reduce solar heat gain and thus reduce energy consumption. However, after using energy modeling software to run a simulation, architects discovered this particular window application would have done more harm than good. In the end, they were able to avoid spending $200,000 on an upgrade that would have actually made the building more inefficient.

A lot was on the line for this particular project — CO2 emissions, energy savings and the school’s overall sustainability goals. With this in mind, architects and engineers pushed for the absolute best results, and were it not for their extensive backgrounds and training in building modeling they would have made a costly mistake. This project acts as a bit of a microcosm for the rest of the sustainable building industry. With lofty goals come lofty expectations and more room for error.

High goals mean high expectations, but never assume that the newest technology or product is going to help meet those goals. Whether it’s taking baby steps to achieve one goal at a time or setting the bar extraordinarily high, the trick is to do it intelligently.

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.

It might seem like a contradiction but for as far as our society has come technologically, the past is teaching us plenty about green building. In fact, the market has shown that some of the greenest buildings in the country are also some of the oldest, in part due to renovation. But where should we draw the line when it comes to making historic buildings more efficient? As it turns out, maybe we should be asking how we can make newer structures more like older ones.

An article published in the New York Times points out that older buildings are often seen as “energy hogs,” especially in New York City, where about 55 percent of buildings predate 1940. Energy hogs? Not quite.

Despite prevailing conceptions, said Lisa Kersavage, the senior director for preservation and sustainability at the (Municipal Art) society, many historic buildings actually already incorporate energy-efficient design features – a legacy of having been built before the advent of cheap energy and modern mechanical systems.

When these buildings were originally constructed, natural ventilation and daylighting were standards, not because it was trendy, but because it was smart. This is the mentality — the approach — that the green building industry needs to take today.

But even for older structures that are in need of a few efficiency modifications, a little goes a long way. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 even includes a manual for preserving the city’s historic buildings — and it’s not as difficult as you might think.

The greening process is often more about optimizing existing elements, like ensuring that cross-ventilation isn’t inadvertently blocked, than about radical retrofit.

In order for the industry to move ahead, we need to look back. Understanding the past is important for the future.

A 40 percent energy efficiency target by 2050 – that’s the goal a recent report says the European Parliament needs to strive for. Is it lofty? Perhaps. But one of the great things about setting high goals is that others tend to strive for them as well.

An article in Greenwise highlights some of the more intricate details of the report, backed by various local authorities and universities across five European

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countries. One of the report’s major focuses is commercial building.

“Buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of Europe’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, so overhauling their energy efficiency represents the greatest opportunity for energy saving and greenhouse gas reduction,” said Dr Bruce Tofield of the University of East Anglia (UEA) and joint author of the report, ‘Refurbishing Europe: An EU Strategy for Energy Efficiency and Climate Action led by Building Refurbishment’. “A long-term target of 40 per cent would galvanize the near-term action on energy efficiency that is essential if action to tackle potentially dangerous climate change is to succeed.”

Whether the European Parliament will vote to approve the goal is uncertain, but the report might push other countries, including the U.S., to implement stricter regulations. The result would be a tremendous boost to the green commercial building sector as commercial buildings are a major contributor to greenhouse gases and energy consumption in the U.S. as well.

Currently, the European Union has a goal of reducing energy demand by 20 percent. It’s worth noting, though, that estimates place it on track

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to achieve only half of this, according to the Greenwise article. Given this information, it will be interesting to see if the U.S. decides to take small steps or giant leaps toward energy efficiency in the commercial sector.

Green Makeover for London 2012

Posted: February 14, 2012 by , Category:Sustainability

The 2012 Olympic Games are almost upon us, and once again sustainable building is being woven into this year’s host city. During the 2010 Winter Games, we highlighted the LEED certified Olympic Village and the redesigned, eco-friendly Olympic medals. And it looks like we’ll see more of the same in London this year!

An article published on CNN.com highlights how London plans to cut back on energy consumption, even when it comes to iconic landmarks. Take Tower Bridge, for example. One of the city’s most famous structures is being retrofitted with an LED lighting system that will reduce energy use by 40 percent. The goal? Host the most environmentally-friendly Olympic Games ever.

As the director of policy at the UK Green Building Council points out, these types of projects can really help shape the sustainable building industry as a whole.

“These high profile projects can highlight the importance of retrofitting and cause people to think about installing renewable energy systems on the micro level,” says John Alker. “Relatively speaking, Tower Bridge will save a small amount of energy but this could translate into a quite significant proportion if people can be persuaded to follow.”

While much of the spotlight will be on the athletes and the competition this summer, the Olympics might very well give the green building market a boost as a result. Increased sustainability exposure for the millions that tune in will definitely prove beneficial.

What London 2012 sustainable initiative has caught your eye?

The Greenest City in America!

Posted: July 14, 2011 by , Category:Environment, Sustainability

We’re proud to call San Francisco home to one of our North American offices. We’ve always loved the unique architecture and the unparalleled atmosphere of the city by the Bay.

But now there’s another reason for us to love this city a little more. San Francisco has been named the ‘greenest city in America‘ by the Economist Intelligence Unit as part of the ongoing Green Cities Index research project.

The chart below shows the areas in which the 27 cities were evaluated.

Looking at the various facets these cities were judged on, I can’t help but smile. Every day, I work with companies to help design low-energy, high performance buildings utilizing our performance analysis products. To see that it’s making a difference in the output of large commercial buildings in some of the greatest cities in this country makes me realize that what we are doing is not just about designing buildings to be pretty. It’s about reducing energy consumption and making buildings as efficient as possible for the long haul. Large commercial buildings in these cities are going to be around for many, many years to come, and it’s our goal to build them to not only last that long, but to be icons of the future of building.

This is an exciting time for our industry! We can’t wait to see all the cities on the list (and more) with scores in the 80s.

If you’re interested in all the specifics, the full report can be downloaded here.


(image via totalAldo photostream under Creative Commons)

By now, there should be little debate over whether going green can save you plenty of money in the short term, especially in the commercial real estate market. Whether going green is truly the wisest long-term financial decision has been the subject of debate for some time. Well, it shouldn’t be any more. Witness this article from Rob Watson at Greener Buildings:

“The latest is from the Earth Advantage Institute in Portland, Oregon, which shows that third-party certified homes … command a whopping 18 percent price premium over non-certified homes … More interesting is that existing homes with green certification commanded an even higher premium of 23 percent compared with other existing homes sold, which indicates that the value of green grows over time. This value trend reflects the RealGreen Index data from the San Francisco Bay area, which shows that LEED Certified office and retail buildings have literally half the vacancy rate of non-certified projects.”

That’s backed up by the US Green Building Council:

“Executives reported that Green buildings have better financial performance than non-Green buildings in the following areas:

  • Higher building values (72%)
  • Higher asking rents (65%)
  • Greater return on investment (52%)
  • Higher occupancy rates (49%)”

There’s little question that going green can save you money on utility bills, for example. But there have been questions as to whether green structures, particularly commercial buildings, make more money over the long term. This should settle that debate.

The true value of any piece of real estate is its resale value. The premium that green-certified buildings now demand should be enough of an impetus to get everyone on board, especially considering how brutal the real estate market has been over the past couple of years. If commercial developers and property owners want to get back to the good old days of making serious money, they can do so in a hurry by arming themselves with this information. So if you want to re-coup some lost green, you should go green.

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