AIA List of Best Sustainable Buildings

Buildings generate nearly 40% of the world’s CO2 emissions—and since two-thirds of the buildings that exist today will still be around by the middle of the century, architects need to rethink their design now to have a chance of meeting goals for a net-zero economy.  The industry is shifting, and sustainability has become a standard part of architecture.  But some projects go further than others.

Each year, the American Institute of Architecture Committee on the Environment selects the 10 best designs.

Three award winning examples are:

  • The Austin, Texas Central Library, a LEED Platinum facility, designed by Lake|Flato Architects in San Antonio. One of the key features of the library is a 373,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system and a garden designed to attract pollinators on the rooftop.  (https://www.aia.org/showcases/6280244-austin-central-library)
  • The Environmental Nature Center and Preschool in Newport Beach, California. The facility was designed by LPA, Inc., an Irvine, California headquartered architecture firm.  The Center was the first LEED Platinum certified building in Orange County and was designed to be a net zero facility.  (https://www.aia.org/showcases/6280251-environmental-nature-center-and-preschool)
  • The Etsy headquarters in New York City. The facility was designed by Gensler, a global architecture firm.  The building was designed to reflect the surrounding community needs and attitudes.  The company chose to use creativity and imagination to redesign a turn-of-the-century building and convert it into a showcase for business and governmental leaders to use as an example for future redevelopment purposes. (https://www.aia.org/showcases/6280254-etsy-headquarters)

For more information, visit the American Institute of Architects site, www.aia.org

 

edited contribution by Adele Peters for Fast Company magazine

 

Texas high-rise to boast North America’s tallest living wall

A significant amount of greenery is headed to inner-city Dallas, Texas, in the form of a new high-rise that will boast North America’s tallest living wall. Located at 1899 McKinney Avenue, the building will rise to a height of 320 ft (97.5 m) and feature 40,000 plants growing vertically on sections of its exterior.

The high-rise is being developed by Rastegar Property Company and was designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz.  It will consist of a contoured glass tower with heavily landscaped balconies and a total of 26 floors and 270 apartments.  The ground floor will host a coffee shop or retail space.  A pocket park and an underground garage are planned for the project too.

The developer says that the living wall (or green wall) on the exterior of the building will improve the local air quality by capturing over 1,600 lb (725 kg) of carbon dioxide and producing 1,200 lb (544 kg) of oxygen annually. It will also feature sensors to monitor plant health and an efficient irrigation system.   A representative from the developer on how these impressive figures were arrived at and received the following response from Zachary Smith, CEO and Founder of Zauben, the firm handling the design of the living wall.

“The CO2 absorption and air purification were taken by the city of London Citiscape project that we’re also in conversations with, but the study did an estimate on 40,000 plants and the impact of air purification and CO2 absorption,” says Smith.  “These are supported by industry research and the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) but what we’re excited about is what our sensors will report.  Will it be more than we estimate?  Will it be less? We don’t have a clear answer now.  This is very much a case study but from everything we know about plants, we’re confident that they will at least absorb 1,600 lb of CO2.”

The project is slated to begin construction in the third quarter of 2020 and to be completed by 2023.

About the author:  Adam Williams

Adam scours the globe from his home in Spain in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of New Atlas. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road.

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Will 3D printing be an answer for building more affordable homes?

A project in southern California will put onsite fabrication to the test against other construction modes.

California’s chronic shortage of affordable housing has been well documented. Conor Dougherty, an economics reporter for the New York Times, states, in his new book “Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America,” that 3.5 million housing units need to be built in California to ameliorate the state’s affordability and homelessness crises.  What’s prevented that from happening so far, he points out, has been resistance among homeowners, municipalities, and environmentalists to rezoning that allows for more housing density that—the thinking goes—would devalue existing properties and/or minimize these constituencies’ political leverage.

Meanwhile, Californians and their lawmakers are finding it harder to avert their gazes from the ragged and destitute legions sleeping rough on sidewalks, in tent cities, inside cardboard boxes.

Late last year California Gov. Gavin Newsom boosted funding for housing and addressing homelessness by $3 billion. Nearly three fifths of California’s estimated 108,000 homeless are located in Los Angeles County, where officials are looking at various temporary and permanent solutions that would increase the availability of affordable and low-income for-sale and rental housing.

On January 14, the county’s Development Authority awarded Los Angeles-based Contour Crafting Corporation (CC Corp.) a project for using 3D printing to construct affordable housing.  A major step toward that project occurred last June 4, when an evaluation committee of the International Code Commission approved acceptance criteria AC509 for 3D-printed construction-grade walls.

For the L.A. County project, Contour Crafting Corp. is collaborating with AEC firm HDR and Volunteers of America, the latter acting as the developer as well as the provider of social services for the eventual occupants.

This is a demonstration project to gauge whether 3D printing is viable as a construction solution on a larger scale. The county will also be assessing two other construction modes, to be built on the same parcel of land: tiny houses, constructed onsite; and prefabricated houses manufactured in factories and assembled onsite.

The proposed design consists of four 3D-printed housing units: one micro unit under 350 sf, and three one-bedroom units of around 450 sf each. The units will have their own private patios, and cluster around a common courtyard.  The residents will have access to a laundry facility on the premises.  While the units won’t have individual driveways or garages, they will be located near mass transit. The collaborators expect this project—which will include a smattering of photovoltaic roof panels—to achieve net-zero energy and earn at least LEED Gold certification.

Contour Crafting Corp.’s customizable 3D printer allows each unit’s exterior to be unique in form and color, while maintaining the efficiency and modularity of the interior elements like the kitchen and bathroom layouts. Insulated thermal mass of the 3D-printed building envelope should deliver high levels of human comfort.

 

Published by: AEC Tech, March 30, 2020, John Caulfield, Senior Editor

Royal Society asks how technology can help achieve Net Zero carbon emissions

The Royal Society is running a project to study how digital technologies can best protect our planet’s environment and ultimately help achieve help achieve net zero carbon emissions.

The ambitious question it is asking is: How can digital technologies be harnessed to tackle climate change?

The Society is seeking to identify actions the UK can take to play a leading role in “data-enabled innovation” and the adoption of digital technologies – from AI through to new forms of computer hardware – to tackle climate change.

Andy Hopper FRS, Treasurer and Vice-President of the Royal Society and Professor of Computer Technology at Cambridge University, as well as being Chair of the project, writes:

Recent Royal Society policy studies have noted the potential for powerful digital technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), to be applied to address major societal challenges. These studies identified the conditions needed to support the safe and rapid deployment of the technology; the forms of governance of data use needed to create an environment of careful stewardship; and the role that technology can play in helping address governance challenges. Building on this work, over 2020 the Society will investigate how data and digital technologies can be applied to the challenge of reaching net zero.

The project on digital technologies and the planet, which started last year, will have three main thrusts.

  1. To investigate the ways in which digital technologies can be mobilised to tackle climate change, both in terms of the development of ‘greener’ digital systems and their application to reduce carbon emissions.
  2. To explore pathways for the development of trustworthy digital systems to support efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and the policies that can help advance their development and use.
  3. To create a vision for the future of digital technologies deployed in support of reducing carbon emissions.

The Society says:

“Digital technologies could support this transformation. These technologies have already reshaped many daily activities – from online retail to on-demand transport services – with individuals using data-enabled systems to bring physical activities into the digital realm, reducing carbon emissions in the process. As technologies develop and systems for data use evolve, there will be further opportunities to find new ways of carrying out everyday tasks, with digital technologies bolstering a low-carbon revolution.”

The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom’s national academy of sciences.

Author: Franck Fourniol (@FrancknScience) March 30, 2020

 

 

SMART Competition Design Consideration

The current pandemic is an opportunity for architects and engineers to rethink facility design issues.

One of the key design questions to consider: “What changes can an architect or engineering professional make when factors like biohazards or viruses must be included in the design?”

Are there building materials or surfaces that can be used that make the building a safer place for its occupants? What about air handling and filtration systems?  Can the location of furnishings, walls or open space enable the occupants to move freely and maintain the needed social separation while still accomplishing the purpose of the facility?

The Competition is an excellent educational program that compliments studies in sustainability, LEED design issues, and renewable power generation.

The SMART Competition (www.smartcompetition.org) is a global STEM and Career and Technology Education (CTE) education program. The competition is open to all high school and university students.  The competition is designed to attract all students without regard or bias of gender, race, socio-economic or academic performance level.

For additional information, contact Mike Andrews, m.andrews@smartcompetition.org

SMART Competition Activity Suggestion

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many schools all over the to close their doors and consider different remote education options.

According to Mark Schneider, one of the competition organizers, “Since the SMART Competition is offered in a 100% virtual environment, the competition is an ideal opportunity for students to gain a remarkable learning experience without fear of contracting the virus.”

Registered teams are provided the software by Bentley Systems and all design and project tracking elements of the competition are through the SMART Competition interface with Bentley.  When the competition deliverables are complete and it’s time for a team to present its work, those presentations are done using cameras and networking software.  Team members never have to be in the same physical space…never…assuring the virus is not transmitted through proximity.

The Competition is an excellent educational program that compliments studies in sustainability, LEED design issues, and renewable power generation.

The SMART Competition (www.smartcompetition.org) is a global STEM and Career and Technology Education (CTE) education program.  The competition is open to all high school and university students.  The competition is designed to attract all students without regard or bias of gender, race, socio-economic or academic performance level.

 

For additional information, contact Mike Andrews, m.andrews@smartcompetition.org

SMART Competition Modifies Key Dates

Due to the current pandemic, the SMART Competition is modifying the registration and submission deadlines.

“Since the SMART Competition is a global program with all deliverables and project tracking completed in a virtual environment, the competition leadership decided to make all submission dates flexible.  That is, if your team registration was delayed, you can still register now without penalty.”

The Competition will use the date registered as the baseline date for team deliverables.  Judging and team recognition will be based in the baseline date.

The Competition is an excellent educational program that compliments studies in sustainability, LEED design issues, and renewable power generation.

The SMART Competition (www.smartcompetition.org) is a global STEM and Career and Technology Education (CTE) education program.  The competition is open to all high school and university students.  The competition is designed to attract all students without regard or bias of gender, race, socio-economic or academic performance level.

 

For additional information, contact Mike Andrews, m.andrews@smartcompetition.org

Bentley Systems, Inc., acquires GroupBC, a U.K. SaaS software innovator

In its inaugural study of the overall market for Collaborative Building Information Management (BIM), ARC Advisory Group ranked Bentley’s ProjectWise system as No.1 worldwide.

The new opportunity is to build on ISO 19650, and GroupBC’s U.K. information management experience, to advance collaborative BIM, through “evergreen” digital twins, to span infrastructure lifecycles.  In combination, Bentley’s iTwin Services will now be leveraged to uniquely connect GroupBC CDEs and ProjectWise CDEs. Through semantic alignment and change synchronization, the resulting digital twins cloud services will securely federate—fully enabling 4D mixed reality and analytics visibility—previously separate CDEs for construction and engineering.

“Our iTwin cloud services, taking advantage of iModel-based solutions for interoperability, are ideal for federating CDEs,” said Keith Bentley, Chief Technology Officer, Bentley Systems.  “This enables us to assure that the users of our BC SaaS services will benefit from further extending the value of their project and asset information through digital twins.  With the help of our new GroupBC colleagues, we will now be able to better serve engineers, contractors and owners by bringing together their collective IT (information management), OT (operational technologies including reality modeling), and ET (engineering models).  I am confident that the resulting improvements in project and asset performance will be consistent with the U.K.’s demanding but welcome expectations for new ROI breakthroughs from digital twins.”

“This is a hugely exciting day for our shared accounts and for both our workforces moving forward,” said Sanjeev Shah, co-founder of GroupBC.  “The opportunities which arise from bringing our two companies and their respective product portfolios together are enormous, as is the global reach which Bentley can now add for us.  Working together we will be even better able to support, through ‘going digital,’ construction and asset lifecycles.”

In addition to providing infrastructure design tools to approximately 800,000 engineers and architects worldwide, Bentley Systems provides the design software used by the SMART Competition.

For additional Competition information, contact Mike Andrews, m.andrews@smartcompetition.org

Registration Deadline Extended

In response to requests from our participants The SMART Competition timeline has extended the entry deadline 2/22/2020.

SMART Competition Opens a University Competition Division

SMART Competition Opens a University Competition Division

The SMART Competition (www.smartcompetition.org) is a global STEM and Career and Technology Education (CTE) education program.  SMART hosts two competition divisions:

  1. High School
  2. University

The University Division is open to all college and university students.

“The Competition is an excellent way to get a head start on your career and profession.”, says Michael Andrews, president of the SMART Competition and Managing Partner of Andrews & Associates. “Teams use the same tools and face the same design challenges as over 800,000 engineering and architectural professionals do every day.”  The software is donated for the competition by Bentley Systems (www.bentley.com).

The Competition is an excellent educational program that compliments studies in sustainability, LEED design issues, and renewable power generation.

The competition is open to all high school and university students.  The competition is designed to attract all students without regard or bias of gender, race, socio-economic or academic performance level.

For additional information, contact Mike Andrews, m.andrews@smartcompetition.org

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