Published on June 7th, 2015 | by Stephen Hanley
How Climate Change Affects Building Design
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative estimates the construction trades contribute as much as 30% of all global greenhouse gas emissions and consume up to 40% of all energy used worldwide. Today, climate change is having a powerful effect on how buildings are designed and constructed.
Marius Esterhuyze is the major accounts manager at Autodesk, which markets 3 dimensional design software to architects around the world. He recently told a reporter for Business Day Live , “[D]evelopers need to move away from industrial and commercial construction modeled on ideals. Buildings, manufacturing plants and business parks have to be designed to withstand the infrastructure challenges that face (the world).”
“Good, sustainable building design starts with a clear understanding of the climate of the building site. Building Information Modelling allows for data to be captured and displayed through visualization tools that can help to consider factors such as temperature, humidity, wind conditions, and sky conditions in a design,” he added. “The achievement of a net zero energy build should always be the end goal.”
Mr Esterhuyze said a key to Autodesk’s software was how it made iterative testing possible. “Today’s software technology allows architects and engineers to iteratively test, analyse and improve on building design. This means that performance, including energy consumption, airflow ventilation, solar radiation, water use, can be optimized before a single brick is laid.”
Reducing water use is becoming critical to sustainable building design. Skillful design and planning can reduce water usage by 50% or more. Strategies include water efficient fixtures and equipment, water efficient irrigation and landscaping, recycling water so it can be used more than once, and capturing rainwater. Purification of water on-site and advanced septic systems have also been shown to be effective.
The Green Building Council of South Africa announced this week that 100 buildings in the country have now received a 5 Star rating. It says it is now cheaper to build a 4 Star building than it is to build one that with a lower environmental and sustainability rating. The GBCSA has its own suite of design software that incorporates strategies for sustainable building practices.
According to Brian Wilkerson, the CEO of the Council, “A 4-star rating refers to best practice. It is something that all buildings can aspire to and achieve by using commonplace green methods and it is not relatively expensive. He said being green should be a “given” in any construction today.
Designing buildings that are energy efficient and conserve precious resources like water is made easier by advanced computer programs like AutoDesk and Edge from GBCSA.