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Building on its launch last year of Autodesk BIM 360 Design, Autodesk announced Oct. 30 the addition of Civil 3D to the cloud solution platform. Users say the enhanced collaborative abilities with BIM 360 and Revit will streamline design of projects that include both civil and vertical components, such as airports and rail stations.

Collaboration for Civil 3D, now included with a BIM 360 Design subscription, allows subscribers of both to work collaboratively with project partners anytime and from anywhere, regardless of team locations and disciplines, says Theo Agelopoulos, senior director with Autodesk.

Customers can now collaborate using streamlined workflows on a unified platform and also perform their day-to-day data management activities in the same place, he says.

While Collaboration for Civil 3D on the BIM 360 Design platform does not yet offer the same worksharing capabilities as Revit, beta users say the ability to access, iterate, and mark up Civil 3D models in real-time in the cloud constitute a game-changer.

Stacey Morykin, design technology manager for Pennoni, says Autodesk gathered client feedback and brainstorming ideas before developing a beta for clients to test. “We’ve been waiting for this for a really long time,” she says. “We do have some projects that have a vertical infrastructure as well as horizontal. Before, when collaborating on a project, we felt like an outsider. Now we have a chance to be an insider.”

In the past, project partners had to export civil 3D files for Pennoni to import into its drawings. “By the time I hung up phone, there would be another change, so I’m still behind,” says Morykin. “If the architect changes a building footprint or door location, now with this integration we can see it.”

Russ Dalton, AECOM BIM director for the Americas, says the enhanced collaboration can improve production efficiency by 32%. “We work on surveying, preconstruction, predesign, all through turnover and operations. We needed a single data source. When we looked at the total picture of delivering a product that looks the same inside the computer screen and physically, it had to come into play,” he says. Historically, there would be a delay in coordination between architect, mechanical engineering and civil design, he says. “Layouts change all the time. The HVAC and architectural teams are working at a fast clip.”

The development also improves collaboration with other programs, such as ProjectWise from Bentley, he adds. “We’re using Civil 3D on top of ProjectWise and that had never worked well. With the new Civil3D collaboration tool, we can add BIM 360 to the workflow, as BIM360 and ProjectWise do collaborate well.”
The new brand covers flooring, light fixtures, kitchen and bath plumbing, and more.

Katerra has launched a new brand of building products, KOVA, focused around plumbing fixtures, hardware, and other finish materials. It is one of many new brands and products Katerra set to launch in 2019, including the KES energy system, KTAC HVAC system, Apollo construction software platform, and Katerra-brand windows and bathroom kits.

According to the manufacturer, the KOVA line is built on a balance of design, quality, and value. Through Katerra’s direct sourcing model, KOVA customers can source multiple products from one partner and gain access the company’s aggregated purchasing power.

“As designers and builders specify and order their products, they may go through a lot of different partners for their plumbing, lighting, cabinets, countertops, etc.,” says Trevor Schick, head of the KOVA materials business. “KOVA is a one-stop shop where we provide all of these materials at a premium quality and great design, but at a better value and with a quicker turnaround. So, as a developer is looking at what they can do to drive cost down on a project, KOVA is now one of the levers they can pull.”

KOVA’s initial offering of home fixtures and finishing products includes flooring, light fixtures, door and cabinetry hardware, kitchen and bath plumbing fixtures, digital thermostats, and window coverings and accessories. The products are available in two series, KOVA and KOVA Select. All plumbing fixtures, hardware and accessories are available in a polished chrome or satin nickel finish; KOVA Select fixtures are also available in matte black.

All KOVA products are designed to meet high environmental and quality standards, including Cal Green certification across all kitchen and bath faucets and showerheads. kovaproducts.com
In a bid to revitalize Singapore’s Bedok Town Centre, international design firm ONG&ONG has completed HEARTBEAT@BEDOK, an award-winning, mixed-use development that serves as a key civic and community space for Bedok residents. The community building is also a beacon for sustainability and follows passive design principles to minimize energy demands as well as building operation and maintenance costs. A cooling microclimate is created with lush landscaping used throughout the site and around the building, which is draped with greenery on every floor.

Located on Singapore’s east coast, the HEARTBEAT@BEDOK was commissioned as part of the Housing and Development Board’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’, an initiative that was announced in 2007 to ensure older towns and neighborhoods are adequately modernized to keep pace with the nation’s development. To bring new life to the area, the architects transformed a public park in the heart of the Bedok neighborhood into the site of a new community center that brings residents of different backgrounds together and cultivates community spirit.

“The Heartbeat@Bedok is an architecturally distinctive community building that is defined by the highest standards in modern sustainability,” the design firm explained. “Featuring an inverted podium-and-blocks design strategy, spaces within the new building are predicated on functionality. The elevated podium allows for optimized natural ventilation, with a group of microclimates created around internal public spaces. A covered area extends 145 m diagonally across the site, creating a 3-story atrium that enhances porosity between floors, while also working to improve overall connectivity and visual integration of the internal spaces.”

Completed in June 2017, the mixed-use development includes a community club, sports and recreation center, public library, polyclinic, a senior care center and public green space. In addition to the abundance of greenery, solar heat and radiation is mitigated with tapered facade glazing, solar fins and optimized passive solar conditions. A rainwater collection system and gray water system were also integrated into the building to ensure responsible and sustainable water use.

The first full mass timber structure in the nation to use southern yellow pine cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels is set for completion in September 2019. Designed by Gensler’s Dallas office, the First United Bank in Fredericksburg has the distinction of being the first full mass timber construction project to be completed in Texas as well as the first retail mass timber structure in the state. Designed to achieve net-zero energy usage, the project also opens up the possibility of utilizing this locally sourced structural material in future projects.

First United Bank, a community banking organization founded in Durant, Oklahoma, in 1900, has 38 locations across Texas. The bank encourages staff to volunteer for local civic and charitable organizations and projects. “They do a lot of after-hours programs, where the bank is opened up and used by groups to teach educational classes or to rent out the community space for meetings and events,” says Gensler project architect Taylor Coleman, AIA. The community emphasis is evident in the building’s design: Warm building materials, ample natural light, and an indoor-outdoor connection to the native vegetation surrounding the structure all attest to the building’s aesthetic as a town gathering place, rather than just a financial institution.

“They have such a strong community presence, and they wanted it to feel like a building for the community as well. We wanted to make it a very approachable project,” Coleman adds.

After several years of working on renovation projects for branch locations in Texas and Oklahoma, First United and the firm went in the direction of ground-up construction. Coleman says the client had two primary goals for the Fredericksburg location: to create a distinct structure that would stand out from other bank branches in the area, and to create a highly sustainable building. “During the design phase, First Texas asked for sustainability, and we proposed net-zero energy,” Coleman says. “But they asked us, ‘Well, is there anything more that we can do?’ And that’s how we got to CLT, not only as a design tool, but as a sustainable solution.”

The 8,500-sf project incorporates a range of sustainability measures. Gensler implemented a high-efficiency VRF HVAC system, expansive floor-to-ceiling windows to harvest natural daylight, and large cantilevered overhangs to shade the structure and reduce cooling costs. Coleman says the shape of the sloping roof and large overhangs lend themselves naturally to CLT. In addition, the sloping roof also facilitates rain collection. It’s estimated that the building will direct as much as 250 million gallons of water annually to an adjacent storage system.

Initially, the building was designed to use Douglas fir CLT panels; however, the fabricators — International Beams in Alabama — had a surplus of southern yellow pine, which Gensler elected to move forward with for both time and cost savings. This choice to use regionally sourced materials that require less energy to transport helped to lessen the environmental impact of the building before occupancy even begins. Coleman says that First United was very receptive to this choice and supported the expression of the structural elements, and the warm, rustic appearance the southern yellow pine lends to the fully exposed ceiling beams.

Coleman says First United has “fully embraced” mass timber and will continue to use the material in future bank buildings. An additional 12,500-sf location under construction in Shawnee, Oklahoma, will be the first full mass timber project in that state, and a 37,000-sf project in Sherman, Texas, is expected to be completed in 2020 and will serve as the bank’s North Texas hub office.

While Texas has no CLT fabricator as yet, this project may open the door for such businesses to come to the state and for regional and local mass timber materials to be utilized in future projects. The enthusiasm with which First United has embraced this sustainable design trend bodes well for its acceptance in other project types.
Air conditioning is a huge source of climate emissions–which is only expected to grow as the planet heats up. But scientists now think air conditioners could remove carbon from the air instead of putting it in.

The air conditioners and ventilation systems on apartment complexes or office towers aren’t typically a tool for fighting climate change. Air conditioning, alone, may use so much electricity by the middle of the century that it could push up the average global temperature by half a degree. But what if instead of contributing to climate change, HVAC systems could instead remove carbon from the air as they kept us cool.

The idea behind carbon capture is that machines suck carbon dioxide from the air–an example of “negative emissions.” This requires moving around large volumes of air, and the machines typically do that by running fans, a process that itself uses a lot of energy. A new study suggests that HVAC fans on buildings could help do some of the work. “If you think of the amount of air which [already flows through] all these air conditioning, ventilation, and heating systems, it’s a huge amount,” says Roland Dittmeyer, a chemical engineer at the Germany-based Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and one of the authors of the paper. “And you already pay for the electricity to contact this air.”

The system would be fairly simple: Modular attachments to air conditioners could pull air inside and through filters that capture CO2. Then a combination of renewable energy and waste heat could be used to convert it into a carbon-neutral liquid fuel that could be used to replace, say, jet fuel.

Companies in the burgeoning “direct air capture” space are already working on making this synthetic fuel. Though it’s more expensive than other fuels, there are already subsidies in place to help create a market for it. In California, for example, a state program gives producers of “low-carbon” fuels credits that could make it affordable for an airline to buy synthetic jet fuel. In cities that are beginning to set emissions limits for buildings, the technology could potentially help building owners offset emissions.

Early plants that capture carbon from the atmosphere are just beginning to come online, and will typically be large, stand-alone facilities. But because CO2 is everywhere in the air, the equipment used to capture it could also theoretically be anywhere. The concept of working with buildings to combine the technology with HVAC takes the idea of distributed production even further.

In the paper, the researchers calculated that one large office tower in Frankfurt, Germany could capture enough CO2 to produce more than 600,000 gallons of fuel in a year. Office buildings throughout the city could produce more than 120 million gallons. Large grocery chains in Germany could potentially capture 350 metric tons of CO2 per store each year. The same process could happen on buildings everywhere.

There are some logistical challenges; first, Dittmeyer says, engineers will have to ensure that the process is safe, and that it can run autonomously without needing direct management. Big manufacturing plants are typically cheaper to run, but if the equipment is mass produced, he says, smaller plants could be feasible, and other chemical engineering plants are beginning to take a similar approach.

The research institute already works with Climeworks and other companies in the industry, and is now beginning to talk with air conditioning and ventilation businesses about setting up a first pilot. If the idea happens, Dittmeyer argues that it would have a second advantage: making it easier for people to get directly involved in tackling climate change. To meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, we’ll need not only to shift to a zero-carbon economy filled with electric vehicles and renewable energy–we’ll also need some strategy for removing the extra CO2 already in the atmosphere.

“With such a decentralized scheme, you have the opportunity to reach a large amount of individuals that might be willing to do something,” Dittmeyer says. “This is enabling the crowd to do something, rather than waiting for big companies to solve the problem. This is an approach that might be helpful to speed up the whole thing. That also happened in the solar business…and in that way, the whole field got momentum. And maybe we can achieve that with this more complex technology as well.”
Thanks to the advocacy efforts of Stalled!, the International Plumbing Code has passed two key amendments

In recent years, the push for all-gender public restrooms has been making legal headway throughout the U.S. But even people well-versed in the matter may not be familiar with the International Plumbing Code, a written document that helps set standards throughout the industry. The IPC, as it is often referred, includes detailed chapters on vents, storm drainage, fixtures, and more. And now, thanks to a new code of amendments, all-gender public restrooms will be facilitated in two major new ways.

The first amendment will allow for the adoption of all-gender multiuser restrooms in public buildings. The second amendment will stipulate that single-user public restrooms have signage that indicates they are available for use regardless of gender. Both these amendments were passed at the International Plumbing Code’s annual meeting and will appear for the first time in the 2021 edition. After that, they are expected to be adopted by local and state governments.

Stalled!—a collaborative group of architects, designers, lawyers, and experts focused on addressing social justice issues related to public restrooms—helped bring about this change. The group, which emphasizes a design-based approach in its efforts, worked closely with the National Center for Transgender Equality to achieve these goals. “These changes will improve equitable bathroom accessibility for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, people with disabilities and their caregivers, families with small children, and anyone who has ever waited in line while another restroom stall sat empty,” Joel Sanders, cofounder of Stalled! and principal of design firm JSA, said in a statement.
Pavel Antonov
At the inaugural Rio Conference on the Global Environment in 1992, three facts became abundantly clear: the earth was indeed warming; fossil fuels were no longer a viable source of energy; and the built environment would have to adapt to this new reality. That year I published an essay in the Journal of Architectural Education called “Architecture for a Contingent Environment” suggesting that architects join with both naturalists and preservationists to confront this situation. Preservationists subsequently suggested that the profession consider adaptive reuse of historic buildings in its sustainability strategies, because reuse saves energy wasted in new construction, and generates less construction refuse as well. In their first set of guidelines, the engineers drafting LEED criteria ignored existing buildings altogether. Adaptive reuse has not been on the radar, at least until recently. That huge blind spot has lingered in the AE professions, though not among conservationists in the global community.

In 1990 the American Institute of Architects formed its Committee On The Environment (COTE) with widespread support from its members, but for more than a decade climate change remained a secondary concern among most architects. But message boards among AIA Fellows have followed the recent announcement by climate scientists that the earth is likely to warm so much that sea levels will rise and species will perish—so the discussion within the profession is heating up as well. As announced in the November issue of Architect, the official magazine of the organization, AIA members now have a set of metrics with which to measure the “green” performance of new buildings, and awards for buildings that follow those standards, putting it on an equal footing with LEED in that regard. A splashy cover story made it clear that the COTE “top ten” awards would feature prominently in subsequent issues of the magazine.

With that in mind it’s worth looking at these award winners from a more objective point of view than that of cheerleading editors paid by the AIA to promote its messages. Moreover, there are reasons for the leading advocacy organization in our industry to be more aggressive in pushing government leaders to support infrastructure, energy and sustainability policies that will confront this crisis head on.

The good news is that several of the award winners were for adaptive reuse of existing buildings rather than new con
Lord Aeck Sargent in Collaboration with The Miller Hull Partnership
Can buildings be both comfortable and energy efficient? The Kendeda Building shows how the two can go hand in hand.

User control may seem antithetical to high-performance buildings: imagine the amount of energy that might be wasted when building occupants are able to adjust the thermostat or open and close windows at will.

Occupants who have perceived control of temperature, however, tend to be more comfortable in their environment. Is it possible for architects to design buildings that are high performance and allow occupants thermal control?

Yes, but to achieve that goal, it is critical to understand a building’s use and the comfort of its occupants when designing for high performance.

The basics of thermal comfort

Thermal comfort is a subjective state. It is both psychological and physiological, and as such is one of the most complex but important aspects of building design.

There are three types of heat transfer: conduction (transfer through direct contact with solid materials, like holding a hot cup of coffee), convection (transfer through liquids and gasses, like feeling colder when it’s windy) and radiation (transfer through electromagnetic waves, like feeling hot when close to a fire).

In addition, there are six factors that influence thermal comfort:

  1. Air temperature: the temperature of the air in the space. This is the factor most think of when considering comfort (it’s too hot, too cold or just right).

  2. Humidity: the moisture in the air. With higher humidity, perspiration evaporates less efficiently, resulting in a given air temperature feeling warmer.

  3. Mean radiant temperature: the perceived temperature in an environment, created by the average of the air temperature and radiant temperature of all facing surfaces. Mean radiant temperature explains why it can feel cold in the winter adjacent to a large window, even when the room is heated to a “comfortable” 72ºF air temperature. The cool window surface radiantly cools your body.

  4. Air speed: the rate of air movement. With higher air speeds (more air movement, within limits), we perspire more efficiently and increase convective heat loss, resulting in a given air temperature feeling cooler.

  5. Metabolic rate: the rate of transformation of calories into heat and mechanical work by metabolic activities within an organism. This is directly related to activity level in an environment. With lower levels of physical activity, warmer air temperatures a