Posts Tagged ‘green roof

25
Jun
08

BIMStorm Coming to Your City?

Los Angeles

BIM is of course Building Information Modeling, and here’s how it became a storm. In Cadalyst, Kenneth Wong reports on how 133 participants tested a hunk of technology called OPS, short for Onuma Planning System, also known as a “Web-based BIM collaboration platform.” And what a platform it is. In virtual attendance from Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Canada, Mexico and the U.S., this group took on the challenge of re-inventing 60 square blocks of Los Angeles. They answered the question of what would happen if, as Wong puts it,

…a bunch of idealistic architects, designers, building owners, contractors, and consultants decided to do away with the professional hierarchies, business protocols, and legal constraints that have long prevented them from working together? What if they converged on a destination and simply spent the day exchanging ideas about the high-rises, hospitals, firehouses, and schools they envision building there?

BIMStorm LA, as the event was officially dubbed, was the brainstorm of Pasadena architect Kimon Onuma. It was a case of technology in search of an application, the technology being Saas, or software-as-a-service, which was developed by Onuma’s company and named OPS. We’re talking about open, interoperable data standards, meaning the players could come in with ArchiCAD, Autodesk Revit, VectorWorks, or any number of other programs that operate under Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) standards.

This was the super-stoked collaboration track, nicknamed the Woodstock of BIM, because the idea behind it was to shake loose from the old ways and throw everybody together into one big sandbox to be as playful and inventive as they wanted — not only architects and engineers, but code reviewers, specialists in Leed certification, green consultants, and structural analysts. After a 24-hour Internet session, conducted in real time with no lag, 420 virtual buildings had been created over 54,755,153 square feet of territory.

One enthusiastic participant was analyst Karen Weber, who specializes in green roofs. Although energy-modeling BIM software is fully aware of solar panels, it doesn’t seem to have caught up with the concept of green roofs, to Weber’s regret. She’s excited about hybrid roofs — the combination of green plantings with solar panels. Roofs get hot, as hot as 200 degrees, and she’d like to see those solar panels, which function best in the high 70s, to have plants for company, to cool them off. The green roof not only looks nice, but saves, she says, lots of money over the life of the building because of several factors.

How will all these green roofs be watered? Weber has a plan for that, too. The area of the architects’ and planners’ imaginary playground would contain around 300 fire hydrants. Their annual flushing wastes millions of gallons of water, which she would like to see gathered, stored in cisterns, and sent up to the green roofs. And why not? Cities are certainly crying out for ways to do many things better, including the conservation of resources.

Another participant, Jeffrey Ouellette of VectorWorks, said,

It’s a really interesting exercise. You can find out relatively quickly how feasible it is to build two 20-story buildings instead of a single 40-story building on a site very early in the design process. A lot of architects struggle with that early design stage because they need to get the feedback, the data, that really matters, in a timely fashion.

Going by the evidence of BimStorm’s own website it appears to have designs on several more cities. One comment notes that the old ways have been proven to cause a built-in wastage of 30% of the professionals’ time and energy before construction on a project even begins. People are liking this idea of real-time collaboration that can bring problems to light before they even become problems. One even proposes the radical idea that, in many cases, the best solution would be not to build.

Comments from BIMStorm participants verge on sounding like religious conversion or falling in love — this thing is rocking their world, and they want more. Urged ahead by the visionary Onuma, they want the future to come faster, which will happen when everybody in the industry gets on board this thing.

SOURCE: ” The Summer of BIM ” 04/01/08
photo courtesy of olasisucsd , used under this Creative Commons license

14
May
08

Inclusive Design = Sustainability, Says Ron Wickman

Green Roof

Sustainability thrives in Canada, where Ron Wickman compares the idea of sustainability with the concept of inclusive design and finds them to be one in the same. Marta Gold interviewed him recently for The Edmonton Journal’s series on the living spaces created for themselves by local architects. Gold says,

Wickman is the barrier-free design consultant for the new southwest recreation centre. He also does audits of existing buildings to improve their accessibility to the disabled, as well as retrofitting homes and designing new ones. He recently took us on a tour of the house he designed for himself, wife Stacey and their three children, Ceira, Kellen and Jayden.

Wickman tore down his previous house and built another with the same footprint as what had been there, and then added a second story with a deck. He takes prospective clients on tours of his family’s home, and calls it his “3-D business card.” Creating a green roof is his next eagerly anticipated project, and he explains why that is more of an altruistic endeavor than a direct benefit to a homeowner.

The new house includes an office suite with its own entrance door at the front. This is a great solution for the increasing number of professionals who work at home. When the family hosts a graduation party, the living space can be extended into the office space. At some other point in the family’s history, that part of the house might become a “granny flat” or the place where an adult child who has suffered a setback can lick the wounds. And here’s the good part: the more inclusively a home is designed and built in the first place, the less work will have to be done when the family’s needs change later on. Without the need for a major remodel, less energy is used, fewer materials are used, and so on. Voila! Sustainability. It could almost be said that a good architect’s job is to put himself out of business.

In Wickman’s office, a frame on the wall holds an anonymous note he received: “Your house is a monstrosity. It blights the neighborhood.” Of course, in his view, what goes on inside the house is the thing to focus on. Does it work for the people who live in it? That’s the important thing. And all kinds of people might be living in it.

Here in America, it’s still Older Americans’ Month, so the issue of universal/accessible/ transgenerational/inclusive design is very much with us. “Aging in place” has become the rallying cry of the generation that in its youth roamed the world like gypsies, and that’s as it should be. There’s nothing wrong with settling down, and the right place to do it is in your own home. Even those of us who are very fit have friends and relatives who want to come over once in a while. Wickman talks about visitability, which means that any person can enter the house under their own steam, move around inside it, and be able to do a simple thing like use the restroom independently.

In Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition, this definition of visitability, by Concrete Change founder Eleanor Smith, is quoted:

A movement to change home construction practices so that virtually all new (single-family) homes, whether or not designated for residents who currently have disabilities, offer a few specific features that make the homes easier for people who develop a mobility impairment to live in and visit.

Speaking of the combination of sustainability and inclusiveness, Wickman says,

Right now a lot of people have the impression that it’s more expensive and it looks institutional and it doesn’t have good resale value, so you have to explain that ‘universal’ can be in any house — it’s not a style or a look or anything, it’s a way of thinking.

SOURCE: ” Universally welcoming ” 04/10/08
photo courtesy of PetroleumJelliffe, used under this Creative Commons license

06
May
08

Dinkins Gardens: Innovative Ventilation Only One of Many Features

Harlem Overlook

Recently, Anuradha Kher reported in Multi-Housing News on the completion of an ambitious project, an 85-unit apartment complex designed for both sustainability and affordability. Located in Harlem, David & Joyce Dinkins Gardens allots nearly one-third of its apartments to young people who have graduated out of foster care situations, with the remainder of the units meant for residents who make less than the area’s median income. (Incidentally, since an illustration of Dinkins Gardens was not available, the photo above is one titled “Harlem Overlook.”)

Designed by Dattner Architects, the building was created with the reduction of both energy demands and water use in mind. The mechanical systems are energy-efficient, and each apartment has its own electric meter, so tenants can experience the satisfaction of seeing a cause-and-effect relationship between their good conservation habits and their electric bills. There is a modular green roof system. Rainwater is harvested from the roof, stored in tanks, and used for the community garden. The roof terrace and backyard garden are important components in the quality-of-life goals the designers aimed for.

During construction, non-toxic paints and sealants were used as much as possible, and many of the materials used were recycled or locally made. As an energy-saving bonus, Dinkins Gardens lies nearby to mass transit. Solar shading, high-performance insulation, and operable windows are all part of the HVAC plan, and in fact the most innovative thing about the project seems to be the individually ventilated apartments, as described by Kher:

Fresh air is drawn into each apartment through window “trickle vents” and expelled horizontally at the façade through voids in the concrete plank. Instead of using vertical ducts that can allow smoke or smells to be transferred between apartments, each apartment is individually ventilated, resulting in better indoor air quality.

The project was developed by Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI) a non-profit interfaith group comprising more than 90 congregations, which owns and manages the building. In keeping with the organization’s mission, Dinkins Gardens also contains space for the Construction Trades Academy, HCCI’s job training and job placement program specializing in access to construction industry careers.

The co-developer is Jonathan Rose Companies, which incidentally produces a marvelous newsletter that is not just a PR vehicle, but contains many articles with substance. Kher quotes Jonathan Rose:

“Dinkins Gardens is the new model for affordable housing. Green projects like these are tremendous investments in the future of the community. By integrating social services, job training, affordable housing and green design, we’re modeling what the future of Harlem and New York City – in fact, cities nationwide – can be….Green building is particularly important for affordable housing because it protects residents from rising energy costs and promotes good health.”

Dinkins Gardens is not the only such Harlem project to reach completion in April. The Kalahari is a mixed-income development of 249 units, built to LEED Certification standards. A quarter of its energy needs will be supplied by solar and wind sources.

New York City has been making sustainability news lately. The executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council, New York chapter, announced his picks for ten green places in the metropolis, including the Conde Nast Building, the Schermerhorn Building, General Theological Seminary, the Visitor Center at Queens Botanical Garden, and the offices of the Natural Resource Defense Council. In lower Manhattan, Battery Park City boasts four LEED-certified buildings.

The venerable YMCA Young Men’s Institute, which opened in 1885 and later became a loft co-op, will soon house a 3,000-square-foot Green Depot showroom.

Now that New York City has made such an excellent start, is there any limit to how green it can become?

SOURCE: ” $19.5M Affordable, Green Project Opens in New York City” 4/01/08
photo courtesy of striatic , used under this Creative Commons license