Posts Tagged LEED

The Whole Building and nothing but the Whole Building : BIM

When speaking of the Built Environment, many people, including myself take an economic impact view of the building, that is existing buildings take up the majority of resources so how can we design/retorofit these things to be more efficient, more efficient means less consumption, means less operating costs all good things.  So being late August and having the opportunity to read exciting things like, The Case Study of CALSTRS Headquarters, West Sacramento CA you are reminded of the more holistic approach to building design.  The building was awarded LEED Gold and is in the process of qualifying for LEED EBOM (Existing Building Operating and Maintenance) so they compare it to other buildings in energy performance, however, also taken into account were the following factors:


Thermal comfort and overcooling

Speech privacy

Occupant controls for energy and comfort

Operator/building controls

Constituent input Landscaping

So how about taking into account the comfort and happiness of the occupants.  I have to say “speech privacy” was not in my list of concerns until I read it about it here, but noticing that “the CalSTRS building has a smaller amount of square footage per occupant than the average for office building(s)” in this survey I guess it should not come as a surprise. There was also a complaint of  ‘over air conditioning’ on the North Side of the building.  I would have to imagine that controls are in place to manage North/South orientation and the design of HVAC systems, if not that would seem to be glaring oversight during the design of the system and building since they would essentially be two different environments.  However, it seems to me if you can quantify happiness, can you build it into design software?  Honestly, with the advent of software, any software, it’s not only to automate tasks, but also get the knowledge of users into the software, hence making everyone more productive.  So if you can put variables in like # of occupants into the design, assigning them SF can we have software suggest break out room for speech privacy, maybe this stuff is automated and in software and I am too dense to have discovered it, hell for all I know it’s a sub menu in Revit I have not discovered but automating what could be common sense, now that would be something.

“Hey Jim what’s up with putting a smiling cow image on this blog post?”

A)  That’s a very cool picture

B) I was thinking happy environment, happy people and in this case happy environment, happy cow.

The study was conducted and published by the folks at the aptly titled, CBE (Center for the Built Environment) at UCAL Berkeley.


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Greening the Built Environment : Autodesk joins IBM’s Green Sigma Coalition : IBM Flexing its Market Power Muscle : BIM

Quick jumble from IBM to BIM and it seems a lot of threads are coming together between IBM and the AECOM community. Smart Buildings and Smart Cities, IBM and Dassault, IBM Maximo, etc.  How this comes to grind with LEED, and EnergyStar initiatives , etc remains to be seen but there is quite a roster to this invite only list.   Charter members include:  Johnson Controls, Honeywell Building Solutions, ABB, Eaton, ESS, Cisco, Siemens Building Technologies Division, Schneider Electric and SAP but nothing like owning the  process and selling services, hardware,  software, product to achieve Green Sigma.  The process itself :

“Combines real-time metering and monitoring with advanced analytics and dashboards that allow clients to make better decisions that improve efficiency, lower costs and reduce environmental impact.”

IBM goes on to outline the validation process which is, you guessed it, validated by IBM. How this differs from LEED which:

… is an internationally recognized green building certification system,  providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Now I am a capitalist so increasing shareholder value is something I take to heart, sure there’s a lot more in the mix than that and who am I to take IBM to task for flexing its market power muscle but aren’t we talking the same side of the coin only IBM wants to own the coin too.  One could argue that Green Sigma is the practical application of LEED principles.  That should keep respective communication departments off my back.  Regardless of who owns the process the end goal for each is laudable, and now proven that ‘green’ is good business.

As reported by Lauren Browne at Connect Press IBM brought Autodesk in for its expertise in modeling and the built environment.

“It occurred to IBM, that it would make sense, given that the built environment requires multiple layers of solution sets including hardware, software, services, financing, etc. that no one company could do this (tackle greening the built environment) in isolation. And if they did, they would be handicapping themselves.”                                – Emma Stewart, Senior Program Lead, Sustainability, Autodesk.

This could help explain the Photofly and PointCloud tools expected in the most recent release of Autocad but if you start doing the math,  +$400 billion in sustainable retrofits, +75% of construction done in the built environment you understand why the big guns are out.


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CALGreen is Coming : More Markets for Energy Analysis : Green Building : #BIM

Signed in 2004, mandatory in 2011 Executive Order  S-20-04 set in motion a whole new set of building codes to reduce energy purchases by 20% by 2015.  I included section 1 and 2 in their entirety below.

1. That the state commit to aggressive action to reduce state building electricity usage by retrofitting, building and operating the most energy and resource efficient buildings by taking all cost-effective measures described in the Green Building Action Plan for facilities owned, funded or leased by the state and to encourage cities, counties and schools to do the same.

2. That state agencies, departments, and other entities under the direct executive authority of the Governor cooperate in taking measures to reduce grid-based energy purchases for state-owned buildings by 20% by 2015, through cost-effective efficiency measures and distributed generation technologies; these measures should include but not be limited to: 2.1. Designing, constructing and operating all new and renovated state-owned facilities paid for with state funds as “LEED Silver” or higher certified buildings; and 2.2. Identifying the most appropriate financing and project delivery mechanisms to achieve these goals; and 2.3. Seeking out office space leases in buildings with a U.S. EPA Energy Star rating; and 2.4. Purchasing or operating Energy Star electrical equipment whenever cost-effective.

Not only that, within the Executive Order their is a provision for CALPERS (the California Pension plan and huge investor) are ‘requested to target resource efficient buildings for real estate investments and commit clean technology funds to advanced sustainable and efficiency technologies.’

You can jump the new building codes home page here.  With the GSA requiring a BIM on all new building and major renovations and now California requiring Green Building Practices in all their public buildings the increase in new technologies related to building will continue to grow.   To completely beat the dead horse into submission, not that a dead horse needs to be beat any more, metaphorically speaking, but…sustainable retrofits,  say it again…


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Rapid Energy Modeling : Sustainable Retrofits : The Market, Tools & Techniques : BIM

There is a virtuous circle afoot and it’s not just how you spin social networking to acquire traffic it is sustainable retrofits and if you wonder what’s the next big thing, what gets us out of this economic tailspin, or at least malaise  too many data points are starting to point in the sustainable retrofit direction.  ARRA (American Relief and Recovery Act) money points that way, the President speaks about green jobs,  Autodesk is hyping it and I am being constantly contacted from firms wanting to use our technology, PointKnown , to augment their green building practices.  And the best thing about it, it makes sense, unlike which use to ship dogfood to you via fedex.

Here are some stats, most of them gleaned from an Autodesk Paper, (from the I read it so you don’t have to category).

  • Approximately 75 percent of buildings globally will be either new or have undergone significant renovation by 2035 (1)
  • About 150 billion square feet of existing buildings (roughly half of the entire building stock in the United States) will need to be renovated over the next 30 years. (2)
  • A recent analysis estimates that green building retrofits in the United States represent a $400B market in the next 20 years. (3)

(1) (2009)

(2) American Institute of Architects (AIA) COTE (2009), Ecology and Design: Ecological Literacy in Architecture Education.

(3) Pike Research (2009), “Energy Efficiency Retrofits for Commercial and Public Buildings,” Executive Summary.

That means work up and down the line from surveying and modeling buildings, through energy analysis,  the design process through constrcution.  But the reason it makes most sense is that there is viable and real ROI not just from the environmental benefit but also from the energy savings. Autodesk’s argument, while self-serving, provides some valid points.

• Supplement energy benchmarking by providing numerous design alternatives to users.
• Democratize the energy and carbon footprinting process by making it accessible to a wider audience of practitioners.
• Make modeling faster, cheaper, and more likely to be used.

Autodesk’s work flow utilizes image modeler to be imported into Revit for modeling.  While personally am not a big fan of introducing another piece of software into the workflow I can see where some people will be more comfortable using photos, etc. to create geometries.  PointKnown takes a different tact in utilizing PPLT (Point to Point Technology) to define objects directly into a Revit work station.  That way a user can further leverage their existing software, draft in a familiar platform, and leave with a dimensionally correct model.  At the end of it you can choose to leave the generic walls, windows, etc. in place for gbXML export, or energy analysis, or begin the process into defining the elements.  Your choice, but you have a dimensionally correct model in the field, with no intermediate translation step.  Now to get technical PPLT is best used for planar surfaces that have minimal variation, that is a wall, that’s straight, but then again typical conditions dictate most surfaces of walls be straight or are at least intended to be. And for energy analysis this could be a powerful tool to jump start the modeling, and actually make it ‘Rapid’


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Government Green : Sustainable Retrofits Redux : #BIM #AIA #LEED

So post yesterday was how I and I am sure everyone is starting get bombarded with this message so today in my inbox from USGBC I get these stats.

  • Much of the $787 billion in federal stimulus money supports green retrofits of publicly owned buildings at the local, state and federal levels.
  • The federal government alone owns and operates some 500,000 buildings.
  • The federal government has a 28 percent greenhouse gas reduction target for federal operations by 2020.
  • 30 percent of all LEED projects are government-owned

And they are holding the USGBC 2010 Federal Summit, May 18-19 2010 in DC

Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center -   Washington, DC

Next thing I will look into are the top 10 items in sustainable retrofits.  As always input welcome.


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Repeat after me…Sustainable Retrofits : #BIM #AIA #LEED

Within the last week I have been called, e-mailed and gone out to discuss sustainable retrofits.  The logic for it seems unassailable and I included some quick stats at the bottom of the posting.  However, as with the rise of virtual construction this is starting to make more sense to most that this is a real economic opportunity. What’s the cause, not sure if it’s the natural progression as companies look for opportunities in this environment, a truck load of AARA and TARP funds have hit,  the Clinton Climate Initiative is creating traction, or a lot of hemp wearing hippies have hit the boardroom,  however I believe the first penguins have slid down the ice and the rest of the waddle / rookery / herd is starting to follow.

Additionally, more hard data points are becoming available to assist. The Empire State Building has started a massive $500 million renovation and hopes to reduce its energy cost up to 38% annually or $4.4 Million.  ‘Wait, you say’ Even I know what looks like to be a 100 year payback seems insane, why spend the money.’ If you look more closely and as they point out at the website that additional improvements on already planned upgrades cost $13.2 million, so $13.2 million yields the saving and payback in less than 4 years.   The Chicago Mercantile Mart and its 4.2 million SF of showrooms, offices and and tradeshow space earned LEED -EB (Existing Building) Silver.  While a video of  Kong climbing the Empire State could be more compelling I included the promotional video as possibly more informing.

Inside the video at about 2:05 they talk about energy modeling.  I wish they included what they used to model it, but if we start talking about scenario analysis and ROI we start talking about BIM again, and various companion products like EcoTect and IES.  One of the bigger points made is that the time to do these things is by piggybacking on top of already planned improvements.  But from low flush toilets, to new digital controls, reglazing windows, to chiller retrofits new ROI models are inviting and this strategy/offering has to be, absolutely, be in your quiver.

Some data points I found while researching this post.

Excerpted comments from President Obama speaking at the Brookings Institute are as follows:

Speaking about AARA funds the President said “is put Americans back to work doing the work America needs done, doubling our capacity in renewable energy’

‘Clean energy projects will all be ramping up in the months ahead’

‘I’m calling on Congress to consider a new program to provide incentives for consumers who retrofit their homes to become more energy efficient, which we know creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment. And I’m proposing that we expand select Recovery Act initiatives to promote energy efficiency and clean energy jobs which have proven particularly popular and effective.’  Full Transcript Available Here

Buildings and Climate Change – Quick Stats:

  • Buildings Account for 38% of CO2 emissions in the United States —more than either the transportation or industrial sectors
  • Over the next 25 years, CO2 emissions from buildings are projected to grow faster than any other sector, with emissions from commercial buildings projected to grow the fastest—1.8% a year through 2030
  • Buildings consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S.
  • Buildings have a lifespan of 50-100 years during which they continually consume energy and produce CO2 emissions.  If half of new commercial buildings were built to use 50% less energy, it would save over 6 million metric tons of CO2 annually for the life of the buildings—the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road every year
  • The U.S. population and economy are projected to grow significantly over the coming decades, increasing the need for new buildings – to meet this demand, approximately 15 million new buildings are projected to be constructed by 2015
  • Building green is one of the best strategies for meeting the challenge of climate change because the technology to make substantial reductions in energy and CO2 emissions already exists.  The average LEED® certified building uses 32% less electricity and saves 350 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually
  • Modest investments in energy-saving and other climate-friendly technologies can yield buildings and communities that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthier places to live and work, and that contribute to reducing CO2 emissions
Source:  USGBC (US Green Building Council) and ASHRAE ( American Society  of Heating, Refrigerating
and Air Conditioning Engineers), the AIA,  IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America)
and the DOE.

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