Clients Pushing AEC to Go Green

15 Nov, 2006 By: Sara Ferris

Autodesk survey reveals where architects stand in the move to adopt sustainable design practices

Autodesk took the occasion of the 2006 Greenbuild Conference & Expo, running this week in Denver, to reveal the results of its 2006 Green Index Survey and honor a customer committed to green building design. It also announced a strategic partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council to facilitate the use of sustainable technology in everyday building practices.

Autodesk and the Green Building Council report that they plan several joint indicatives to encourage sustainable design, including development of an educational curriculum for architecture and engineering students. The two will also investigate ways to integrate Autodesk technology with the council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. Other potential areas for collaboration include consulting, joint development of new technology initiatives and industry education.

"We hope the relationship between Autodesk and USGBC will help democratize sustainable design by creating an industry-standard technology platform for green building," said USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi. "We believe this collaboration will enhance our ability to further the Green Building agenda and pave the way for a cleaner and healthier future with more environmentally responsible buildings."

Autodesk's Green Index is designed to measure, on a scale of 0 to 100, architects' adoption of sustainable design techniques. The magic number for 2006 is 30, and that's expected to double by 2011. The top motivation for architects who "go green" is client demand, cited by 77% of this year's survey respondents and up from 64% in last year's survey.

Autodesk conducted its survey in last month, asking 150 U.S. architects about their use of 16 green design practices five years ago, over the previous 12 months, and expected use five years from now. Almost half (48%) of respondents predominantly design single-family homes. The rest are involved with commercial projects, institutional or industrial projects.

Over the next five years, survey respondents expect to increase their use of several green practices:

  • 36% expect to specify material quantities and schedules to minimize waste during construction, up from 9% who do so today.
  • 43% expect to predict and evaluate solar heating, up from 12% who do so today.
  • 47% expect to evaluate solar lighting, up from 17% today.
  • 45% expect to explore alternative building materials to maximize energy performance and minimize environment impact, up from 22% today.
  • 53% expect to conduct energy modeling and baseline analysis, up from 25% today.
High-efficiency HVAC systems are the most common energy-saving technology in use today, with 64% of the study's respondents specifying their use on more than half of their projects in the past year. Five years ago, only 36% of architects used high-efficiency HVAC systems on more than half of their projects.

BNIM Architects earned the 2006 Autodesk Green Building Leadership Award for its use of Revit software to design green buildings. The award recognizes "customers who have used Autodesk technology to design buildings that are innovative, energy efficient and incorporate the latest sustainable design principles."

"BNIM Architects has built a national reputation for excellence in architecture that strives for a minimal ecological footprint on the natural world," said Phil Bernstein, LEED AP, FAIA, and Autodesk vice-president of building industry strategy and relations." BNIM Architects adopted Autodesk's Revit Building software five years ago. The software enables the firm's architects to track several sustainable design strategies on any given project -- for example, determining percentages of material reuse, recycling and salvage. BNIM Architects has used Revit Building to design more than 20 projects, including the 1.1 million-square-foot Internal Revenue Service Kansas City Campus. The firm also uses Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk VIZ software to create photorealistic 3D visualizations of buildings.

About the Author: Sara Ferris