Good design becomes affordable design; elements that have major impact on energy use and carbon emission can be assessed at an early stage and through the design process, the later stages of design are speeded up and costs be monitored constantly’, says Rohan Rawte, Integrated Environmental Solutions
With climate change so high on the global agenda, few of us need persuading about the importance of sustainable building design. But making it happen is another matter. One of the key challenges facing today’s designers is understanding and tackling how to incorporate sustainable design principle into existing workflows and process. There are still a lot of unanswered questions. Questions as what analysis capabilities are available to me? How do the results inform me? What tasks should I be doing when? And how do I incorporate all this into my existing workflow?
There is not a general appreciation and growing knowledge in India of how powerful building performance and analysis and energy modelling can be within the green design process. However, this excitement is not as yet translating into true understanding. Performance analysis is a vital component in designing truly sustainable buildings; creating understanding of the impact of different strategies on energy consumption and other environmental metrics. Building performance analysis softwares allows designers to virtually test the feasibility of different energy saving strategies and new technologies and facilitate low energy/low carbon designs. This allows companies to achieve cost effective and increasingly more efficient environmental performance, while also enhancing competitive advantage, through a shift from the conventional linear building design and delivery processes to a multi-disciplinary practice of interrelated systems integration at the whole building level.
Solution: The Integrated Design Argument
We recognise the importance of an ‘Integrated design’ approach for sustainable infrastructure development. As a general rule, the most impact is made when analysis and modelling is incorporated right from the earliest stages, well before key design decisions are set in. High quality analysis information can quantify and inform better decisions for both new, refurbishment and in-use projects, allowing the design team to effectively develop creative sustainable solutions. Analysis can then be used to further refine the design as a progress.
Detailed analysis of elements such as airflow, thermal comfort, heating/cooling loads, egress and value/cost at later stages provides more accurate figures and results for system sizing, fine tuning, compliance, cost and documentation. If the design team can quickly and easily undertake analysis directly from design models, then feedback fits with iterations, is more effective, and can facilitate the multi-disciplinary decision making of integrated design. The ripple effects of any design changes – from major modifications, to fine tuning can also be assessed at the touch of a few solutions, which helps create an innovative bridge between architecture and engineering. The importance of an integrated design process was highlighted within the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change report.
Competitive advantage is achieved as results and analysis can be presented to clients and building control, justifying design decisions and providing data for effective commissioning and in-use operation. Good design becomes affordable design, elements that have major impact on energy use and carbon emission can be assessed at an early stage and through the design process, the later stages of design are speeded up and costs be monitored constantly.
The adoption of Performance Analysis in India
The introduction of the LEED-INDIA rating system and GRIHA as well as a growing social consciousness, is pushing the ethos of sustainable building design to the top of the agenda throughout India. Pressure groups, public opinion, official guidelines and legislation – we are all driving towards the same goal of zero carbon emissions. The shift appears to have started. Designers are embracing and understanding the power of analysis. India has begun to ‘GoGreen’ and we see the advantages of using performance analysis tools to facilitate sustainable design. A new way of working has already emerged – collaborative thinking, multi-disciplinary decision making, creativity and innovation and of-course, great design. Achieving this kind of effective collaboration and cross-discipline understanding, in my opinion is core to achieving fully sustainable energy-efficient building design and is the future for infrastructure design throughout India.