Abstract: A three-year research project explored the evolving level of “building expertise” for low-carbon housing refurbishment in the UK and France. With a focus on “middle actors” and the evolution of professional practice, this paper reports on “middle-out” responses from the housing retrofit supply chain to top-down policies promoting low-energy retrofits of existing homes. The two countries have comparable long-term policy goals for CO2 emissions reduction, but there are important differences between their more immediate initiatives to achieve a step-change in activity in the housing retrofit market. Industry responses to these various policy signals were explored in a series of semi-structured interviews with builders involved in innovative, low-energy refurbishment projects. Drawing mainly on four case studies of innovative business models, the paper highlights innovative practices and processes being proposed and trialled by “middle actors” in the building industry. We describe middle-out implications of these innovative practices: upstream to policy makers, downstream to clients, and sideways across refurbishment providers and the retrofit supply chain.
Abstract: The design of smart homes, buildings and environments currently suffers from a low maturity of available methodologies and tools. Technologies, devices and protocols strongly bias the design process towards vertical integration, and more flexible solutions based on separation of design concerns are seldom applied. As a result, the current landscape of smart environments is mostly populated by defectively designed solutions where application requirements (e.g., end-user functionality) are too often mixed and intertwined with technical requirements (e.g., managing the network of devices). A mature and effective design process must, instead, rely on a clear separation between the application layer and the underlying enabling technologies, to enable effective design reuse. The role of smart gateways is to enable this separation of concerns and to provide an abstracted view of available automation technology to higher software layers. This paper presents a blueprint for the information technology (IT) architecture of smart buildings that builds on top of established software engineering practices, such as model-driven development and semantic representation, and that avoids many pitfalls inherent in legacy approaches. The paper will also present a representative use case where the approach has been applied and the corresponding modeling and software tools.
Abstract: Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the process of structuring, capturing, creating, and managing a digital representation of physical and/or functional characteristics of a built space . Current BIM has limited ability to represent dynamic semantics, social information, often failing to consider building activity, behavior and context; thus limiting integration with intelligent, built-environment management systems. Research, such as the development of Semantic Exchange Modules, and/or the linking of IFC with semantic web structures, demonstrates the need for building models to better support complex semantic functionality. To implement model semantics effectively, however, it is critical that model designers consider semantic information constructs. This paper discusses semantic models with relation to determining the most suitable information structure. We demonstrate how semantic rigidity can lead to significant long-term problems that can contribute to model failure. A sufficiently detailed feasibility study is advised to maximize the value from the semantic model. In addition we propose a set of questions, to be used during a model’s feasibility study, and guidelines to help assess the most suitable method for managing semantics in a built environment.
Abstract: This paper reviews briefly the recent history of dwelling design in China. It notes the rapid changes that have taken place since the 1980s and identifies the way contemporary procurement processes leave out the final fit-out and decoration/refurbishment. A range of stakeholders were interviewed, and access was gained to drawings and other technical data that indicated how the secondary processes were carried out. These are largely ungoverned by regulation in the same way necessary for initial design. The key group is the occupants who drive the fit-out and decoration according to personal and cultural requirements, but often with less than perfect understanding of sustainability. The interior design industry has developed rapidly over the same period and was initially lacking in professional knowledge and understanding (something which can still be found). Advice provided to dwelling occupants was based more on appearance than function and efficiency. Over the same period, beneficial modifications to construction processes have been introduced in relation to structural design, and it should be possible to do the same for sustainability-related design issues. The paper advocates: more regulation; better assessment techniques; more information and guidance for home-owners; and a greater focus on energy issues.
Abstract: The 2010 edition of the load standard in the United States (U.S.), ASCE 7-10, (Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures) introduced risk-targeted spectral acceleration values for the estimation of seismic design loads. In this study, a 20-story steel moment resisting frame structure located in Century City, CA, USA was designed based on ASCE 7-10 and a probabilistic seismic collapse assessment was conducted. The main goals of this study are: (a) to evaluate whether the design of a typical steel moment-frame structure based on risk-targeted spectral accelerations fulfills the target design collapse level of 1% probability of collapse in 50 years; and (b) to quantify the collapse potential of a tall steel structure design based on the most current U.S. seismic code provisions. The probability of collapse was estimated for two sets of 104 and 224 recorded ground motions, respectively. An evaluation of the results demonstrated that for this specific structure the code-prescribed collapse performance target was reasonably met.
Abstract: Indoor air quality (IAQ) can produce significant economic benefits for the tenant during the use of the building. However, currently the potential economic benefits on a tenant’s employees’ health and performance are not considered in feasibility studies for IAQ investments. Here, the economic value refers to benefits that can be expressed numerically in terms of money such as cost savings and increased revenues and that which impacts the building user organization’s financial profitability. This paper is one of the first known studies to explore real option analysis (ROA) as a potential approach to evaluate the life-cycle profitability of investments in IAQ. The research is carried out as a case study, which is a healthcare construction project in Finland. The main finding of this paper is that ROA seems to provide a viable method for the evaluation of investments in IAQ. In the case study, the economic benefits of IAQ to the tenant are noticeable. The real option value of the economic benefits of better IAQ is almost 4 million euros and the real option pay-off of the IAQ investment exceeds 0.5 million euros. The results are indicative only but imply that ROA is a promising method to evaluate investments in IAQ.