Integrating Sustainable Design Principles into CAD
A raging debate in the political arena has to do with whether concerns about preserving our environment are overblown, or whether the concerns should be taken seriously. Environmental movements are concerned about protecting natural resources, and are therefore resistant to the use of nuclear energy, the use of pesticides and water additives, deforestation, production of industrial waste, and the laying down of petroleum pipelines. On the other hand, those who either disagree with the concerns raised by environmentalists, or who believe that these concerns have been exaggerated, use derogatory expressions such as “tree huggers” to refer to environmentalists.
The polarization between environmentalists and their opponents is unfortunate, because the concerns raised by environmentalists are real. A recent report by the IPCC (the 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) confirmed that global warming is a problem caused by mankind, due primarily to carbon dioxide emissions. The effects of these emissions include (a) climate changes, (b) global warming, (c) increased changes in sea levels, ice and snow acidification, and (d) melting of ice glaciers in the Arctic. Global warming, if ignored, could threaten the comfortable and technologically advanced lifestyles that mankind has become accustomed to.
What do global warming and preservation of the environment have to do with “Sustainable Design in CAD/Green Architecture?” This article explains relationships between sustainable design and CAD/Green Architecture by answering these questions:
- What is Sustainable Design?
- How is Sustainable Design implemented in modern CAD packages?
- How is Sustainable Design implemented for Green Architecture?
What is Sustainable Design?
The following definition comes from several sources. Sustainable design is the intention to reduce or completely eliminate negative environmental impacts through thoughtful designs. Sustainable design can be applied across all fields such as designing buildings or industrial products.
A sustainable design provides these benefits:
- Lowered energy and water consumption,
- Minimized adverse impact on climate change,
- Waste-free manufacturing, use of renewable resources, and emphasis on recycling:
There is no method of waste disposal which is completely safe. For example, landfills contaminate drinking water, and garbage burned in incinerators poisons the air, water, and soil.
- Minimized use of non-toxic materials:
Almost every type of household garbage contains toxic materials such as nickel, lead, cadmium mercury, pesticides, air freshener sprays, nail polish, and other household goods. Burning of these types of household garbage creates health hazards.
- Emphasis on quality and durability rather than on price.
How is Sustainable Design implemented in modern CAD packages?
Modern CAD software is aware of sustainable design, and new CAD software releases provide software solutions which address a combination of design methodologies and lifecycle management workflows.
In particular, BIM (Building Information Modeling) uses powerful analysis tools to create sustainable designs.
Autodesk® is a good representative CAD product which demonstrates how sustainable design is implemented in CAD software. Autodesk is a leader in implementing sustainability solutions in CAD packages.
- For sustainable building design, Autodesk conforms to BIM standards by providing software solutions which (a) address energy and daylight modeling for buildings to minimize usage of energy and water, and (b) produce minimal waste and carbon emissions. Autodesk Revit estimates energy usage and lifecycle costs from building energy analyses and simulations. Autodesk Revit also provides fast and accurate lighting analysis regarding the use of electric and solar power.
- For sustainable infrastructure, Autodesk combines BIM with master planning tools that ensure high-value project delivery. Project execution uses workflows to improve water hydrology, reduce transportation congestion, and promote effective renewable energy utilization. For example, during project execution, BIM ensures synergistic interactions between architects, engineers, economists and all relevant project groups. As a result, rework is minimized, and costly project execution errors are avoided.
- For sustainable manufacturing, Autodesk integrates sustainability solutions between digital prototyping simulations, lifecycle management, and factory design platforms. As a result, it takes less time to deliver products to market, it minimizes adverse environmental impact, and it maximizes safety. For example, integration of plant and HVAC layouts during the design stage involves energy and CFD simulations. As a result, the risk and expense of costly downtime is minimized, material wastage is reduced, capital expenditure is reduced, environmental preservation is maximized, and quality, comfort and safety are maximized.
How is Sustainable Design implemented for Green Architecture?
Green Architecture, also called Green Design, is an approach for designing and creating buildings and structures to minimize harmful effects on human health and the environment. Green Design tries to safeguard water, air and the earth by using natural, eco-friendly, and reclaimed building materials, and construction practices. Because Green Design features are available in modern CAD packages such as Autodesk, many benefits as listed below are achievable.
- Energy-efficient lighting and appliances; use of solar energy and wind energy,
- Water-saving plumbing fixtures,
- Minimal harm to the natural habitat,
- Maximum use of natural, non-synthetic, and non-toxic materials,
- Efficient use of space.
A few examples will illustrate how Sustainable Design has been implemented for Green Architecture.
- The U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters has a green roof. The architects designed an ecosystem that captures both the sun and the rain, thereby providing government workers with natural light and a professionally-designed landscape which is irrigated by collected storm-water. As a result, surrounding ponds became less muddy, the vegetation became more lush, and office workers became less stressful.
- LEAFHouse at the University of Maryland designed a zero energy home which is solar powered, and which uses a liquid descant waterfall to control humidity, grey water recycling, and even a plug to charge an electric car.
- After hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, architects designed “Katrina Cottages” which are affordable, cheerful, energy efficient, and are constructed from decay-resistant steel framing and steel-reinforced wall board.
One building material which is not green energy compliant is concrete, because when concrete is made, it spews out carbon dioxide into the air. Canadian government environmentalists have developed a storage method to reduce global carbon emissions by as much as 1% per year. Also, concrete is being made with biofuels in order to lower carbon emissions.