Autodesk Aims to Look Good in Green

18 Nov, 2007

Company unveils sustainability "dashboard" concept, 2007 Green Index results, and several other earth-friendly initiatives at Greenbuild 2007.

Proving it's on the case when it comes to sustainability, Autodesk announced multiple green initiatives at the Greenbuild 2007 International Conference and Expo in Chicago earlier this month. First, the company introduced its sustainability analysis "dashboard" concept, created in collaboration with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The dashboard uses the Autodesk Revit BIM (building information modeling) platform to provide architects, engineers, building owners, and affiliated design partners with real-time visual feedback on the impact of design decisions on a project's LEED rating. The company also announced the results of the 2007 Autodesk/AIA Green Index; launched the new Autodesk Sustainable Design Curriculum; and announced its sponsorship of the PBS documentary series e2 (The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious).

Sustainability Analysis Dashboard
Unveiled during Greenbuild's opening plenary session, the sustainability dashboard concept has the potential to facilitate sustainable design and LEED certification by allowing designers to immediately realize the environmental effect of their design decisions. The program would allow architects to continually calculate key factors such as energy and water usage, storm water runoff, recycled material content, carbon footprint, and daylighting. The dashboard also could be used to track LEED points throughout the design process and illuminate potential point gains to improve the project's LEED score. The dashboard was presented by Autodesk and the USGBC as a technology concept; it is not yet commercially available. A video, "Project Chicago: Green Research," offers an overview of the new technology.

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"Project Chicago: Green Research" investigated how modeling, analysis, and sustainable validation can work in tandem to improve the design process. A project video demonstrates how, using scenarios from BNIM Architects' Lewis and Clark State Office Building in Missouri, a research team of experts developed alternative concepts for sustainable design environments and studied their impact on the design process.

"As we've worked closely together over the past year, it is clear that USGBC and Autodesk share a vision of using technology to drive the mainstream adoption of green building practices," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO, and founding chair of USGBC. "We're very excited about the sustainability analysis dashboard concept, and look forward to continued cooperation and new technology developments that will accelerate green building practices globally."

Autodesk/AIA Green Index
Autodesk also announced the results of the 2007 Autodesk/AIA Green Index, an annual survey that measures how AIA (American Institute of Architects) member architects in the United States are practicing sustainable design and collects their opinions about the green building movement. The 2007 Autodesk/AIA Green Index results show that green building has taken a firm hold in the industry and has captured the attention of both architects and clients. According to index, five years ago fewer than 50% of U.S. architects were incorporating sustainable design practices into their projects. The 2007 index found that 90% of architects expect to practice some measure of sustainable design by 2012.

The Green Index also reports that 70% of architects cite client demand as the leading driver of sustainable building practices, with the desire to reduce operating costs as the main incentive. Accordingly, the index shows that architects now are frequently specifying high-efficiency HVAC systems, highly reflective roofing, and recycled building materials. In addition, they are increasingly using software to model energy use. Most respondents (88%) reported that they have received training or continuing education on green building practices.

Slightly more than half of the Green Index respondents said that they believe architects are responsible for developing and implementing sustainable building solutions, and nearly three-quarters said that they believe their industry is headed in the right direction regarding climate change. Still, the Green Index reveals that significant opportunities remain for architects to deliver on green building practices. Although half of survey participants reported having clients inquire about green building on the majority of their projects, only 30% have actually implemented sustainable elements. In addition, just 10% of architects are currently measuring the carbon footprint of their projects, according to the index.

Commenting on the results of the Green Index, AIA executive vice-president and CEO Christine McEntee said, "Buildings are the leading provider of greenhouse emissions, and in 2005 the AIA set a goal to reduce carbon emissions from buildings by 50% by 2010 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The results of the survey are encouraging, but there needs to be a greater sense of urgency to make sustainable design the norm in the profession. To that end, we will be releasing additional resources in 2008 to better educate both architects and clients on best practices and benefits of green buildings."

Additional Initiatives
To increase public awareness of sustainable design as a key part of the global climate change solution, Autodesk is sponsoring the PBS documentary series "e2 (The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious)," airing this fall.

Autodesk also launched the first version of the new Autodesk Sustainable Design Curriculum. Available at no cost to post secondary educators, the curriculum will enable educators to promote sustainable design practices and integrate BIM techniques and technology into the classroom and studio. Post-secondary educators worldwide can register to access the curriculum through the Autodesk Student Engineering and Design Community; find it in the Faculty Lounge area of the Web site.

"Autodesk is committed to helping the industry design and build greener buildings," said Phil Bernstein, FAIA, LEED AP and vice-president of Autodesk AEC Industry Strategy and Relations. "We look forward to continued collaboration with the USGBC to develop technology and education solutions that achieve this goal."