Beth Brant, Director of Sustainability and designer at DSGN, completed documentation on a Dallas Fire Station project. Brant developed a presentation using the built-in energy modeling tools found in ARCHICAD on the project, which had construction drawings in place. The Fire Station is currently under construction with a scheduled completion date of Summer 2016. The building is designed to be certified LEED, a standard for the contractor.

Fire Station 6 served as a very detailed 300 or 400 level model, which Brant rebuilt in ARCHICAD to be able to run numbers on the energy use of the building and obtain evaluation of the design from a sustainability standpoint. Using the energy modeling tools in ARCHICAD early on in the design process was not an option for this project, yet Brant found this a valuable exercise in becoming familiar with the tool and finding ways to expand its use going forward.

“Our firm works on projects overseas for the most part, but for some of the local projects we have coming up, I have been wanting to use ARCHICAD and its energy modeling capabilities for them. The idea was to educate my team members on how and what we can do to comply with the 2030 Commitment.”

That commitment includes reporting standard for projects and working to reduce carbon footprints by 70% wherever possible. So the firm needs to run an energy model, Brant says she found the program easy to learn and manipulate. There is an immense value in the calculations the software provides, including knowing what energy is actually used in the building and being able to evaluate how efficiently it is being used can be calculated in the model.

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“Changing the design and seeing how it affected the energy model was pretty simple. It was the first program I’d seen that looks at carbon emissions and measures site EUI or Energy Use Intensity. Those statistics are important in terms of meeting the AIA 2030 Challenge goals. Also, since we are trying to design smarter, the only way to do that is analyze how you’re designing now.”

Granted, applying an ARCHICAD model to an existing building served as a teaching exercise, but Brant believes she can evaluate how important that software would have been at the time.

“Having gone through the process with Fire Station 6, I think that it would have been easier to design with ARCHICAD with an eye on energy efficiency back then. We got by with what we know about designing sustainably from an experience and intuitive standpoint – but being able to run those ideas from the outset would have saved so much time.”

Brant says using a program such as ARCHICAD to calculate energy use when designing a LEED building allows the MEP engineers to get into more details and then verify the numbers they’re getting.

“I would never say for certain that I know how much energy a building will use, but the software does give architects a way to design so that they can be cognizant of that aspect. It puts power in the hands of the architects.”

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