Autodesk Impact Speaker Series: Pursuing the 2030 Challenge with Iterative Building Performance Analysis

Autodesk Impact Speakers

As an AIA 2030 Commitment signatory, Dekker/Perich/Sabatini is working towards the goal of achieving carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. Since joining the Commitment, our Building Performance Analysis Team (BPAT) has created an exceptional process for analyzing a building's energy use. By leveraging Autodesk software and a streamlined workflow, they have analyzed and reported over 1.5 million square feet of new construction projects to the AIA 2030 DDx portfolio.

After learning of our success using their software, Autodesk's San Francisco office invited BPAT leaders Brandon Garrett and Aaron Ketner to participate in their "Impact Speaker" series and share client and project success stories. Autodesk hosts just a handful of “Impact Speakers” each year, so it was quite an honor to be included! Plus, Brandon and Aaron were able to tour Autodesk's Pier 9 Makerspace.

Posted by Aaron Ketner and Brandon Garrett

Impact Speaker Event

Over lunch, about 100 employees at Autodesk’s San Francisco office attended our presentation. We shared how our Building Performance Analysis Team (BPAT) has incorporated Autodesk Insight analysis into our design process to achieve an iterative, integrated workflow that we hope will help us achieve 100% carbon-neutral projects by the year 2030.

Aaron Ketner and Brandon Garrett at Autdesk Impact Speaker series

BPAT, as part of Dekker/Perich/Sabatini's AIA 2030 Commitment, is focused on helping design teams quickly explore, analyze, and improve overall building design and performance. To accomplish this, our team creates energy models to analyze predicted energy use intensity of new buildings, and we perform a variety of iterative design studies to optimize building performance. This early energy modeling and analysis for our projects helps inform design decisions from the start, benefiting both schedules and budgets.

We convey final analyses using easy-to-read graphics and charts, which project teams use as a guide to make decisions. These visualizations are easy to share with clients so they better understand design options and solutions. They also improve collaboration between the architect and engineering consultant, allowing them to compare analyses and more quickly address any discrepancies.

After explaining our approach, we shared three case studies with Autodesk that demonstrate our success since implementing this new process.

Building Performance Analysis in Action

Case Study 1

Soleras Station EUI graphic
Soleras Station: a multifamily housing project designed to earn LEED Platinum and WELL Building Certification.

For Soleras Station, we created Revit and Insight models to study sitewide energy use intensity (EUI), wind patterns, solar irradiance, and daylighting/shading analysis. The analyses helped us adjust the location of an outdoor playground and resulted in increased solar exposure for hardscape surfaces during the cold winter months, mitigating snow and ice buildup.

Case Study 2

NMDGF PV rendering
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Area Offices: two area offices designed to use renewable solar energy.

The design team for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish area offices worked with BPAT and the engineering consultant to validate the buildings’ estimated energy use intensity. The Autodesk Insight EUI analysis came within 0.1 EUI of the engineering consultant’s energy model, validating the accuracy of the models.

Moving forward with additional analyses, the team also studied solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to understand the ROI and environmental impacts of using renewable energy generation. After considering the results, the client decided to increase the size of their PV system in the first area office, and they will maximize their PV system for their second location.

NMDGF Daylighting Analysis

Autodesk Insight also provided rapid analysis for optimal building orientation, allowing for early implementation along the design timeline.

Case Study 3

Artesia Administration Building with EUI Analysis graphic overlay
Artesia Administration and Training Center: the new administration building achieved a 57% reduction in fossil-fuel energy consumption through a variety of design strategies and building technologies

The Artesia Administration and Training Center project achieved our largest reduction in building energy demand in the design phase yet – a 57% reduction from CBES EUI baseline. With the integration of a Ground Source Heat Pump HVAC system, the project achieved a predicted EUI reduction of 69% and BPAT showed with the addition of a 2-parking space carport PV system, the project would achieve 71% reduction and attain the current benchmark for the 2030 Challenge – our first D/P/S project to potentially achieve this benchmark. This project quickly became our focus to see how real-world performance is stacking up to our predicted analysis.

We have collected 7 post-occupancy utility bills from the building operations manager thus far, and we are very excited to see that we are on track for our predicted analysis. We expect our predicted EUI to be within 5% of the actual building demand at the end of the first year of post-occupancy building performance data.

We concluded our presentation by highlighting how Insight and our early building performance analysis helps D/P/S provide more value to our clients. We also presented what’s next for D/P/S—pushing new boundaries by developing our Computational BIM capabilities, researching and developing our own Smart Building Sensors, and visualizing real-time data to advance our understanding of the built environment.

Pier 9 Tour

Autodesk Pier 9 entrance

After the presentation we got a tour of Autodesk Pier 9 which is one of the most sophisticated maker spaces in the world. The space was designed as a place to explore every stage of the process of making things, from idea to digital model to real-world physical product.

The state-of-the-art facility houses a digital fabrication workshop used to explore the interface between software and hardware – an intersection that is transforming the way that people design and make things. Pier 9 is a place to push the limits of our software and hardware tools, showcase innovative projects, and create an environment that fosters experimentation and learning.

Our tour started in the advanced CNC Machine Shop which houses a 5-axis router, waterjet and an integrated mill-turn center.

CNC Machine Shop

Autodesk is currently researching generative design as a means of form finding and optimization. We checked out some research results, including a generatively designed skateboard truck (the part that houses the axel).

They also fabricated several structural elements generatively designed to support an addition to a bridge in the space. The results look like organic structures or something inspired by H.R. Giger.

Generative Design Structures
Generative Design Structures

The next stop on our tour took us through an old school wood and metal shop, which provides a solid foundation of traditional craftsman tools. Conversely, the nearby 3D Print Shop features a variety of rapid prototyping tools.

The 3D printers are all state-of-the-art and are capable of printing mixed materials at impressive resolutions. We spent time looking at their gallery of 3D printed objects, which included a full model of a Herman Miller chair that could fit on a quarter.

The most relevant part of the tour was a project that incorporated building sensors to monitor activity on a bridge located within the facility. Although the live feed was shut down during an upgrade of the sensors, we did get to see a visual interface of the sensor information that was transposed onto a 3D model of the space. This is something that our Design Technology Team is currently researching within D/P/S's office.

Visual interface of building sensors
Visual interface of building sensors

The tour concluded at a gallery of generatively designed parts and components. It gave use a glimpse into the future of manufacturing, and it is mind blowing.

After our tour it was clear that Pier 9 is the Hub for fabrication and manufacturing technology exploration. We also learned that Autodesk has a similar space dedicated to experimental digital fabrication, construction and automation specifically related to the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industry. This facility is referred to as the BUILD Space (Building, Innovation, Learning and Design) which is located in Boston (Field Trip!), and you can learn more about it here.

Learn more about Dekker/Perich/Sabatini's building performance and design technology work: