Architects Predict Significant Increases in Sustainable Design, Singling Out the Importance of HVAC

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff November 20, 2006

At last week’s Greenbuild Expo in Denver, Autodesk, Inc. announced the results of its 2006 Autodesk Green Index, which provides a measure of the adoption of sustainable design techniques by architects. The overall Green Index number, based on a score of zero to 100, is expected to double by 2011, from 30 in 2006.

Of special significance for consulting M/E engineers is the fact that the most prevalent energy-saving initiative the architects pointed to are high-efficiency HVAC systems, with 64% percent of the study’s respondents specifying their use on more than half of their projects over the past year. Five years ago, only 36% percent of architects used high-efficiency HVAC systems on over half of their design project; 85% expect to use high-efficiency HVAC systems on most of their projects by 2011.

Seventy-seven percent of this year’s respondents indicated that client demand is the top driver for architects to practice sustainable design, up from 64% in 2005’s Green Index. In last year’s survey, customer demand was tied with fuel costs as leading drivers for the adoption of green building practices.

“This year’s study reveals a growing commitment by architects and owners for supporting sustainable design principles,” said Jay Bhatt, vice president, Autodesk building solutions. “By enabling our customers to collaborate more effectively and estimate more accurately, Autodesk solutions help architects predict the overall lifecycle costs of their designs.”

In 2005, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) established a goal to reduce building- and construction-related fossil-fuel use by 50% by 2010. More than 60% of architects responding to the 2006 green index survey predict that their integrated/high performance design work will help meet the 2005 AIA goal.

According to the survey, architects expect to expand their use of design software for energy modeling in the next five years for a variety of tasks, including:

  • A 300% increase in the use of design software to specify material quantities and schedules to minimize waste during the construction process (to be used by 36% of architects on most of their projects in 2011, compared to 9% in 2006).

  • A 258% increase to predict and evaluate solar heating (43% in 2011, 12% in 2006).

  • A 176% increase to predict and evaluate solar lighting (17% in 2011, 47% in 2006).

  • A 105% increase to evaluate and explore alternative building materials to maximize energy performance and minimize environmental impact (45% in 2011, 22% in 2006).

  • A 112% increase to conduct energy modeling/baseline analysis (53% in 2011, 25% in 2006).