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Using Revit and Insight to achieve Architecture 2030 Challenge goals

Sarah Sharifi

Written by Heather R. Johnson

With dedicated sustainability staff and using Autodesk Revit and Insight, included in the Autodesk Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Collection, firms are on their way to achieving their targets for meeting the Architecture 2030 challenge.

Multi-disciplinary design studio Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR) and CTA Architects Engineers, an integrated engineering and design firm, are both on target to meet the Architecture 2030 Challenge. As 2030 Challenge signatory firms, they have committed to designing carbon neutral buildings by the year 2030, with additional targets such as 80-percent reduction in fossil fuel energy by 2020, and 90-percent reduction by 2025.

Committing to carbon reduction goals

To date, nearly 1,200 firms have joined the cause to embrace sustainable and carbon neutral planning and design in the built environment. To support the 2030 Challenge, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) created an initiative called the AIA 2030 Commitment. Its mission is to shift the architecture industry from a greenhouse gas contributor to a steward of sustainability. Currently, the AIA 2030 Commitment has more than 450 signatories and counting.

Integrated with Revit since the 2017.2 release, Insight’s ability to provide energy modeling and simulation– with centralized access to performance data and analysis engines– allows firms such as EDR and CTA to make design decisions based on building performance metrics. The result is higher-performing and more energy-efficient buildings.

To make the AIA 2030 Commitment reporting process less time consuming and less challenging, Insight offers integration with the AIA 2030 Commitment Design Data Exchange (DDx) eliminating the manual entry of project data.

Lowering Energy Use Intensity (EUI)

An early Insight adopter, CTA submitted one of its recent projects, the Stockman Bank in downtown Missoula, Montana to the AIA 2030 Commitment site. Completed in December 2017, the six-story building is expected to receive LEED Platinum certification. “The energy model predicted an EUI of 21,” says sustainability director Richard Dykstra. EUI is the amount of energy used per square foot per year. A typical bank branch has an EUI of about 266, according to EPA research, and CTA’s Stockman Bank has a 92 percent lower EUI than the average bank branch.

Before Insight was available, CTA energy engineer Tim Johnson says the company used other methods that were more cumbersome. “With Insight running 100-and-some simulations at once, we can see where thresholds are and where it will be cost effective to make changes,” he says.

Those limits come in handy when designing projects in frigid climates. “Roof insulation is something we always consider in our northern climates,” Johnson says. “Where is the point where it’s not going to be cost effective to keep insulating? With Insight we can find that out quickly.”

Discovering the benefits of energy modeling

Jacob Dunn, EDR’s sustainability enabler, uses Insight with Revit to answer specific questions about the relative performance of a single characteristic. “We can run a series of parametric simulations of, ‘What if we reduced lighting power density from x to y along these steps?’ or ‘What would happen if we reduced infiltration?’,” he says. “That gives us an EUI range so we know what’s at stake for infiltration and lighting. That’s been really effective in communicating targets for efficiency opportunities.”

With a strong focus on local projects and a diverse portfolio, EDR incorporates sustainability into all its projects, even for cost-driven clients who don’t prioritize energy efficiency. “Using Insight is a way to not only prove triple bottom line, but to make sure you’re meeting your design intent, which is something that doesn’t always happen together.”

EDR also uses Insight, now integrated with EnergyPlus cloud workflow, for early conceptual analysis and load calculation. Lighting analysis for Revit, now integrated into the Insight plug-in, allows Dunn to customize lighting analysis settings. Using Insight with Revit lets architects and engineers conduct energy modeling early and often, faster than before. With DDx reporting and energy cost, solar and daylighting analysis, Revit and Insight help ensure the 2030 goal is within reach.

Learn more about using Revit and Insight

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Sarah Sharifi

Sarah Sharifi is Content Marketing Manager on Autodesk's Sustainability & Foundation team. Her prior experience includes content strategy across various industries including renewable energy, oil & gas, construction and tech. She has special interest in educating architects and engineers on the business values created by sustainable design for building.

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