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Introduction

ANNIE PEARCE
Virginia Tech

JOHN ZHAI
University of Colorado Boulder

Buildings account for 40 percent of the primary energy usage and 70 percent of all the electricity consumption in the United States.1 Construction, operation, and demolition of buildings generate tremendous pollution that directly and indirectly causes urban air quality problems and climate change. Poor design of buildings and systems not only wastes resources and energy and causes adverse impacts on the environment but also creates uncomfortable and unhealthy indoor environments. In addition, as the impact of humans on the environment at both local and global scales becomes increasingly apparent, sustainable development of buildings has emerged as an important goal throughout the entire life span of a building project.

Sustainability implies the ability of a system to maintain itself or be maintained over time without threatening the stability of other systems upon which it depends. However, just like their ecological counterparts, complex humandesigned systems such as buildings sometimes exhibit emergent behaviors that make their sustainability difficult to model and evaluate, and thus design and optimize, especially in situations where the performance of those systems depends on dynamic interactions among nature, humans, and systems. Modern design concepts of high-performance buildings, associated with the usage of new building materials and advanced mechanical and electrical systems, result in an increased need for understanding the integration of building elements and systems, including humans who design and operate them. To reach the net-zero-energy building goal by 2030 will require highly multidisciplinary efforts from many collaborators such as policy makers, architects, urban planners, material scientists, civil engineers,

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1 U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2010.



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OCR for page 81
Introduction Annie peArce Virginia Tech John zhAi University of Colorado Boulder Buildings account for 40 percent of the primary energy usage and 70 percent of all the electricity consumption in the United States.1 Construction, operation, and demolition of buildings generate tremendous pollution that directly and indirectly causes urban air quality problems and climate change. Poor design of buildings and systems not only wastes resources and energy and causes adverse impacts on the environment but also creates uncomfortable and unhealthy indoor environments. In addition, as the impact of humans on the environment at both local and global scales becomes increasingly apparent, sustainable development of buildings has emerged as an important goal throughout the entire life span of a building project. Sustainability implies the ability of a system to maintain itself or be main - tained over time without threatening the stability of other systems upon which it depends. However, just like their ecological counterparts, complex human- designed systems such as buildings sometimes exhibit emergent behaviors that make their sustainability difficult to model and evaluate, and thus design and optimize, especially in situations where the performance of those systems depends on dynamic interactions among nature, humans, and systems. Modern design con- cepts of high-performance buildings, associated with the usage of new building materials and advanced mechanical and electrical systems, result in an increased need for understanding the integration of building elements and systems, includ - ing humans who design and operate them. To reach the net-zero-energy building goal by 2030 will require highly multidisciplinary efforts from many collaborators such as policy makers, architects, urban planners, material scientists, civil engi - 1 U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2010. 81

OCR for page 81
82 FRONTIERS OF ENGINEERING neers, mechanical engineers, environmental engineers, those in the construction industry, social scientists, and even public health practitioners throughout the long life cycle of buildings. This session introduces the emerging integration and transformation effort of the architecture/engineering/construction industry to increase social, eco- nomic, and environmental benefits via sustainable building development. John Ochsendorf (Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT]) introduces the current challenges and opportunities for low-carbon buildings by presenting the cutting edge in benchmarking building performance and building life-cycle cost assess - ment. Using case studies of ultra-low-carbon buildings designed by his team at MIT, he discusses the best integrated design strategies and future research and industry needs. Next, John Haymaker (Design Process Innovation) uses industry case studies and surveys to summarize the difficulties that building design teams have defin- ing and searching through solution spaces and how this results in unsustainable designs. He presents an emerging platform of industrial and academic tools that are helping professional and student teams execute far more efficient and effec - tive design processes. Jelena Srebric (Pennsylvania State University) discusses the challenges in modeling the energy and environmental performance of an entire building. She defines key questions that multiscale modeling can address for an engineer fac - ing a design of new or renovation of old buildings with sustainability in mind. She also analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of existing multiscale modeling opportunities and concludes with a discussion on future needs in developing new building multiscale models. Chris Pyke (U.S. Green Building Council) wraps up the session with an industry perspective that covers the use of location-based services and social net - works to drive market transformation for sustainable building. He demonstrates an innovative Geographic Information System-based platform for conducting dynamic, multicriteria benchmarking and facilitating the collection and analysis of unprecedented information about the experience of occupants in and around green buildings. He discusses how these new tools will drive continuous performance in a number of specific areas, including greenhouse gas emissions reduction, water conservation, and public health. It is evident that the ability to identify, compare, and reward high-achieving projects and individuals is central to green building’s success.