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Step Up to the Sustainability Plate with VE-Gaia
By Susan Smith
Over the years, bridging the gap between architects and engineers has been heavily debated and discussed, but has proved more critical on projects doing sustainable design. Integrated Building Analysis Software (IES) builds software solutions to address this gap and make the design process much more accessible to a larger number of stakeholders in the building process.
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VE-Gaia shares gbXML connectivity with VE-Toolkits, and plug-ins for both Revit and SketchUp. Architects can do LEED compliance and urban design analysis by adding plug-ins. “When an architect wants to consider what to build on a site, he or she needs to have an idea of what the climate is like,” said McLean. “We have climate metrics, if I press on a button, when I set the model I show where the site is located in the world, and it tells me information about the climate, it tells it’s dominated by wind, solar radiation on the south and west walls, and information about the temperatures, about the diurnal temperature swing (difference between minimum and maximum temperatures each day). We give advice on how to interpret this information, for example, we’re trying to do the interpretation of the information for the customer and it gives them some guidance about what it means.”
McLean said with this release, IES is really changing the entire scope of how they present information to people – to make it easier for them to understand numbers on graphs and make analysis easier on that side. “This is what the overview is about, giving the designer information such as natural resources, what’s the potential for solar, etc. and guidance on what materials to use.”
The data can be set up to review all the ways water will be used in a building, for example, and specify wastewater and whether you will use rain or gray water in the analysis. The same type of information such as graphs, summary data, and some notes on how to interpret data are included in this release.
VE-Gaia also allows users to assess carbon technology and photovoltaic cells, wind turbines, biomass, absorption cooling, low carbon solutions, and electricity. “You can do simulation analysis with all the different types of renewable technology you might want to consider,” said McLean.
Architects can get an idea of how a building will perform, and work to try to get a building as sustainable as possible with high quality information and what is the best orientation. “Normally an architect doesn’t have this quality of information at this stage of the design process, as there are not that many radical changes later, they can talk to client and all members of the design team,” McLean said. “What we’re hoping is this will enable the architect to have confidence to be more innovative and aggressive about what they do in terms of reducing carbon emissions from buildings.”
Typically an engineer will take three to four weeks to perform LEED energy analysis and give it back to the architect. “The trouble is they can’t monitor how they’re performing against this credit as it goes through the design process.”
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The model can incorporate design changes to see what effect the changes have, and the model can be passed on to someone else and back to the architect very quickly.
Usually the architect doesn’t know the amount of credit they’re likely to get until after schematics or late in the process as this information has not historically been available to him/her. At that stage the chance of making a change is greatly reduced. Having that process set out as a workflow allows the user to follow a step-by-step process, and from that simple model, an architect can just check for energy credit. Then he can bring down the cost by trying design changes and see what effect changes have, and can monitor all that through the process.
The software allows the architect to communicate better with other members of the design team and the client, and is able to monitor the process, then carry that through the whole process so it can be as sustainable as possible – without having to learn a complicated energy analysis software program.
There is more training needed with VE-Gaia than with the VE-Toolkits, according to McLean, but still users can learn in little over a day how to do a LEED assessment of energy credit.
Top News of the Week
Updates to Project Showroom have been released by Autodesk. Project Showroom is a technology preview for Autodesk's vision of a new web-based home decorating tool. It allows you to browse product selections from leading manufacturers, and get a feel for how those products will look in real-world settings. Try it! It’s free and open to anyone.
The preview is easy to use. Simply select products of interest; then drag and drop them into the virtual space. Project Showroom requires no download and no special software. All you need is a standard web browser.