U.K., U.S. Interest in Sustainable Architecture Growing

16 Dec, 2008 By: Kenneth Wong

Autodesk increases green design investment with acquisitions and outreach efforts.

Conventional wisdom suggests that in difficult times people abandon experimental projects to focus on the basics. But the architecture industry may prove to be an exception to this rule.

According to the 2008 Green Index recently released by Autodesk and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), 88% of the architects polled agree that they "should practice sustainable design wherever possible. Importantly, they also see clients as a major influencer — with 70% of architects saying they are a driving force in facilitating greener design."

Adrian Dobson, RIBA's director of practice, pointed out, "This contradicts the popular belief that when money is scarce, clients are more worried about initial costs than long-term savings and are not so concerned about their environmental credentials."

Across the Atlantic, U.S. architects exhibit a similar awareness. In the 2008 Green Index published by Autodesk and the American Institute of Architects (AIA), "Nearly nine in 10 architects (89%) agree architects should practice sustainable design whenever possible. Further, over half of architects (54%) agree [they are] responsible for developing and implementing solutions to the issue."

According to Autodesk, the Autodesk-RIBA study "reflects the steady take-up of building information modeling (BIM), with more than 20% of architects now incorporating this process into their practice. One third consult with civil engineers to add value on at least half of their green building projects but only just over a quarter (27%) currently measure the carbon footprints of their projects."

But among the general U.S. population, the statistics are not so encouraging. According to a poll conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Autodesk, only 4% of U.S. adults are aware that buildings are the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in this country. (The AIA's Architects and Climate Change report reveals that "buildings represent 48% of carbon dioxide emissions, with transportation and industry representing 27% and 25%, respectively.")

You have but to take a look at Autodesk's acquisitions in recent years to know the company anticipates the growth of sustainable design to continue. The purchase of Green Building Studio, a web-based energy analysis program, and Ecotect, a sophisticated building and energy analysis software, mark Autodesk's ongoing investment in this area.

Knowing building energy performance would be one of the themes at Autodesk University, Integrated Environmental Solutions, makers of IES (a competing product of Ecotect) showcased its latest products — Architectural Suites — at the conference. For more, read "Event Report: Autodesk University 2008 — Part II."

The Sustainability Center highlights Autodesk Revit, Autodesk BIM software, and 3ds Max, the company's 3D modeling product. Recently, at tradeshows and conferences, Autodesk has been demonstrating how architects could use 3ds Max's rendering functions to visualize daylighting and solar-thermal-analysis results.

To promote sustainable design, Autodesk launched the Sustainable Design portal in 2008, preceded by its sponsorship of the PBS series "e2". More recently, the company helped launch the web site Ask Nature, an online resource on biomimicry, a design discipline that looks to nature for inspiration.

Related content:AEC, BIM (Building Information Modeling), Sustainable Design

About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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