Practicing ArchitecturePracticing Architecture
Maurya has an extensive depth and breadth of experience of the built environment on four continents. She has designed buildings as a structural engineer, as a mechanical engineer, and as a façade engineer. Trained as both an architect and an engineer, Maurya is able to bridge the professions and has therefore been a key success driver for projects that require seamless integration of form and function. Through her years of project experience, Maurya has fine-tuned a “Holistic-Façade Design and Integrated, Low-energy Building Design” methodology, using performance simulation to influence early design decision, and gained extensive experience in the nuances of its application to a variety of building types.
Most recently, she has been invited by a number of software development organizations to collaborate and advise on the advancement and enhancement of building energy modeling software, specifically for architects. After 15 years with Arup, she has recently started her own business providing façade design/engineering and sustainability consulting to architects, designers, and related industry professionals.
Maurya, why was An Architect’s Guide to Integrated Energy Modeling in the Design Process created?
Because overall building energy efficiency incorporates so many systems and components, the design implications to achieve it are not as intuitive as other parts of the design process may be.
Design professionals, therefore, use energy modeling software to help them understand how design decisions impact the energy efficiency of the project. However, most of the energy modeling for energy efficient design to date has been done primarily by engineers and consultants, and typically only late in the design process.
If architects can better understand and utilize energy modeling, particularly early on, but also throughout the design process, projects will have a better chance to be much more energy efficient. And architects seem to want to better understand how design decisions they make will impact the energy performance of their projects. The Guide introduces architects to the modeling tools everyone is using.
How will energy modeling tools affect practice, and how does the Guide support the change?
Energy modeling is already affecting practice; more and more clients are asking design teams to design energy-efficient projects. We hope the Guide will help architects’ understanding in a few key areas.
To begin, we list the energy modeling programs that are most prevalently used in the industry at the moment, and the tools that architects, either working on their own or with consultants, are the most likely to encounter.
We also explain what energy modeling tools do, what inputs they require, and what outputs are generated, so that architects feel empowered to engage in a much more knowledgeable conversation with the consultants that perform energy modeling for their projects.
We emphasize that there are tools that support the possibility of more architects and more projects utilizing energy modeling as part of their design process, particularly during the early design phases, that can help them to make decisions that are informed by energy efficiency as well as aesthetics and program and all of the other things that they consider when they design.
How will small firms or sole practitioners benefit from energy modeling in their projects; how can they approach energy modeling with limited resources?
It's primarily the small firms and sole practitioners that we were consciously targeting with the Guide.
First, we’ve highlighted a number of Design Performance Modeling (DPM) tools that are structured specifically for early design, providing graphic results that facilitate informed decision-making. These tools seem to be the easiest for an architect, including a sole practitioner, to learn, understand, and use quickly and easily.
Next, we've highlighted software that is freeware as well as commercial software.
In addition, the Guide highlights the inputs that are required for the later, more complex, whole-building modeling or for code compliance so that architects can be more efficient at gathering the information that’s needed to pass on to consultants who might be doing the later-stage energy modeling.
There are quite a few options when it comes to energy modeling software. How can architects find the most appropriate tool?
We've tried to highlight, in particular, tools better suited for Design Performance Modeling (DPM)—energy modeling that is typically done at the very early stages in the design process—to help the designers to better integrate energy as a part of their decision-making process. These tools are typically used to assess the potential energy implications of early-stage design explorations, like massing, orientation, and envelope.
They are a bit different in structure and complexity than the whole Building Energy Modeling (BEM) tools that are typically used much later in the design process to illustrate code or sustainability-rating-system compliance, and account for all of the architectural and engineering systems in the project.
There is, however, a huge variety of both DPM and BEM software available. I think all of the authors of the Guide agreed that the “most appropriate” tool is whichever one will be used early and often throughout the design process, whether that be due to price, ease of use, familiarity, etc.
What advantages can an architect with experience and expertise in using energy modeling tools expect?
Besides the obvious advantage of being able to market the ability to design energy-efficient projects to the growing number of clients asking for them, the Guide illustrates a number of areas of expertise related to energy modeling that can either provide added value or may be included as additional services.
For example, once an architect/design-team is intimately familiar with the energy-efficiency measures included in a project, who better than that team to advise and educate the client and facility-manager on those systems, thus fostering an ongoing relationship with the client?
Similarly, as operable envelope, lighting, occupancy and other building systems are included as part of the overall project energy-efficiency plan, who better than the architect/design-team that is intimately familiar with how these systems operate to assist in the commissioning process?
Additionally, many of the energy-modeling software developers now understand that currently available software may not yet respond to what architects are ideally looking for. A number of software development teams are therefore now looking for architects to help them understand how to modify/further-develop software to address this.
There seem to be plenty of opportunities related to designing for energy efficiency opening up for architects who are interested in and knowledgeable about the related design technologies.
For your peers who are considering becoming an AIA member, what advice would you offer?
I think that membership gives you a more immediate and deeper access to information that can help with all aspects of the design process, particularly, in this case, the related technology aspects. The AIA adds value through access to other members, tools and education; helping to expand an architect’s understanding of this increasingly complex field.
Through its members, the AIA has the ability to gather a lot of technical knowledge in a wealth of inter-related fields and coalesce it all into something that is easy for architects to assimilate, no matter what technology is needed, in a variety of forms (design guides, educational seminars, online courses, as well as national and regional conferences) to be able to do their job better. Being an AIA member affords one very easy access to all of that knowledge.
I think the AIA does a great job of listening to its membership to understand what is needed. Like an architect’s guide to understanding how energy modeling fits into the design process. The AIA saw the need and put together a team to respond by developing knowledge and education on this particular subject; tools, classes, webinars, etc., that a member can easily gather and apply to the next project and the project after that. It’s rewarding to be a part of that process.
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Maurya McClintock, Assoc. AIA
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Image: San Francisco Federal