Creating a Technology Toolkit for Sustainable Design

By Ashley Mulhall

In recent years, the sustainable design movement has pushed design professionals outside of their comfort zone in several ways.  The WELL Building Standard asks architects to be experts on human biology so we can design the best environments for people.  LEED has raised the bar on measuring operational carbon and materials disclosure.  The Living Building Challenge has set a new benchmark for the built environment with a focus on improving the health of communities and ecosystems, beyond doing less bad.  Our environment each year is challenging the architecture industry to push into new ways of problem-solving. At Orcutt|Winslow we see this as an opportunity to be disrupters and drive innovation in the AEC industry. To help us in our efforts to build better and drive change within our industry are specific sustainability tools that we implement on every project to not only inform decisions but give us a better understanding of trends in sustainable design.

 We are constantly using BIM as a tool to make our buildings more sustainable.

Early Energy Modeling

Early Energy Modeling with Sefaira

On every project, we create a conceptual energy model using a program called Sefaira early in the design process to set energy goals and make informed design decisions. This model is detailed as much as we can and used to give us specific data such as daylighting, see how well our building envelopes are performing and to give us a better-informed outlook on mechanical equipment.  As part of a current research project, we are also exploring opportunities to use Rhino/Grasshopper more seamlessly with our ArchiCAD models for energy and daylight analysis. This will better streamline our current workflow and make room for rapid prototyping.

Building Integrated Shade Structures

Shading Structures

Using our BIM Model we are able to optimize shading devices in order to minimize the material required and maximize effectiveness.

Thermal Bridging Analysis

Early Energy Modeling

Thermal bridging analysis allows us to prevent heat transfer from occurring unintentionally.

Embodied Carbon

Embodied Carbon Example

Each Embodied Carbon Footprint Our BIM model contains the information necessary to calculate the carbon footprint of our projects.

Looking Forward

Circular Economy/Carbon Economy In a future where carbon has value, building materials will retain value beyond the end of the building's life.  This is going to be a major disruptor and will change the way we design and build.  We are working on how to increase the information component of BIM in our models to allow for real-time AR/VR exploration of building materials in order to connect to the marketplace.