At a preview for its new products in London today, computer-aided design software leader Autodesk discussed its Green Index, which is intended to provide a snapshot of the state of architectural sustainability practices.
The Green Index is not new, having been conducted since 2005, but it merits attention as an illustration of the interconnectedness of technology and environmental challenges in the real world outside of computer components.
Transport probably gets more abuse by environmental lobbyists but buildings are huge energy consumers and often patently inefficient, so the pressure is on architects to come up with improved designs.
Autodesk's Green Index measures design and construction metrics to provide a score between 0 and 100 on the use of sustainable techniques with factors such as wastage minimisation, use of prefabricated components and sourcing of materials all weighted. Architects are quizzed on design practices based on the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.
"Students in [architecture] colleges today are as interested in the manufacturing of components as the assembly of those components," said an Autodesk spokesman.
The good news is that tihngs are getting better and the overall Green Index score of 30 in 2006 is forecast to rise to 60 in 2011. One surprising finding claimed by Autodesk is that the top driver for sustainable designs is no longer fuel cost but client demand. In other words, those picking up the bill are demanding sustainability.
The radical changes in demands for buildings will require architects to better understand materials, energy and atmosphere management alternatives. A new take on HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) will be critical - as is already occurring in datacentres, we could add. And, of course, new design software will have to support these new demands.
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