High-Profile Monthly: May 2012

Page 14

May, 2012


High-Profile Focus: Engineering

The Engineer’s Perspective of AIA 2030 Challenge Part 1

by Suzanne Robinson, PE LEED AP BD+C Here’s something to consider: Of all the energy consumed in the US, almost half is by buildings. That’s a large market share – more than automobiles. And yet we’ve seen how the automobile industry has been kicking out more and more fuel vehicles. Suzanne Robinson efficient A decade ago when you bought a Honda Civic, you had a car that had decent fuel efficiency, about 30 mpg. Now you can purchase the same vehicle in hybrid form with gas mileage of 44 mpg. Well what about buildings? How have they done in the past decade? Do you even know what a building’s “mpg” is? If you answered EUI – point for you! The EUI (energy use intensity) is measured in kBTU/sf/year. It measures the amount of energy utilized by a building and normalizes it so buildings of different sizes can be compared. This all brings me to my point – the AIA 2030 Challenge. The AIA (American Institute of Architects) took a look at energy consumption in the US and came to the conclusion that as architects, they had a responsibility on how the built environment they were involved in creating utilized energy. Many factors and people are involved in the decisions that make a building, but as

architects, they had the ability to help influence and guide these decisions to produce more energy efficient buildings. Out of these efforts and discussion came the AIA 2030 Challenge. It challenges the design community to work on designing buildings so that by 2030 we are producing buildings with zero fossil fuel consumption. There are incremental steps to bring us to net zero buildings by 2030. We are currently targeting a very ambitious 60% energy reduction. And this brings me to today – well, last month. “Without the understanding of where we are now, it will be impossible for us to tell if we are improving as practitioners, as firms, and as a profession.” The AIA 2030 Commitment requires all firms that sign the commitment to submit annual assessments for all their projects, not just the good ones. Due at the end of Q1 this year was the Annual Report for 2011 Design Work, which reports the EUI for all the projects in design last year. A big kudos to the architectural community for developing this challenge, but they can’t do this on their own. To transform the way we design and construct buildings it will require a team effort to meet the goals. Recently there are more and more nonarchitectural firms signing the AIA 2030 Commitment. Having just completed our AIA 2030 Annual Report for 2011, I have some insight from the engineer’s perspective. First, that was a lot of work! We reported on 283 projects that were in design last year. That was over 18 million sf of buildings! And I have to share an unexpected pattern. The

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bulk of our projects were between 1,000sf and 100,000sf. However, the number of projects we reported on that were under 1,000sf was 38. The number of projects we reported on that were over 100,000sf was– you guessed it, 38. Second, we realized we’re collecting and reporting on the same information that the architects we work with are collecting and reporting on, so let’s share. We sent the specific project info to the architect on the project to help them on their reporting and

to also compare notes. Over 50 architectural firms we work with received specific project information, and from this came questions and discussions that allowed us to bring energy performance on buildings front and center. What did the results show? What do you do with this information? How do we do better? Stay tuned for Part 2. Suzanne Robinson heads up the Sustainability Department at Vanderweil Engineers.

Bioengineering Wins Engineering Awards Salem, MA - Bioengineering Group has been chosen by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) as a winner of the 2012 Honor Award in the Water Resources Category for its work on the New Orleans West Closure Complex Pump Station. Serving to close off the Gulf Intracoastal WaterNew Orleans west closure complex pump station way and prevent floodwaters recognized by the American Academy from entering the Harvey and Algiers Canals along the west Bank of Environmental Engineers (AAEE), of the Mississippi River, it is the largest winning an Honor Award in Design for pump station of its type in the world, and the same project. AAEE states, “The Exa critical element in the federally man- cellence in Environmental Engineering dated hurricane risk reduction system for Competition criteria define what it takes to be the best in environmental engineerNew Orleans. Bioengineering Group was also ing practice.”

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