In 2002, an environmental assessment scheme was released in France in order to measure and improve the environmental performances of new and existing buildings: the High Environmental Quality Scheme (HQE).
Similar to the LEED or BREEAM assessment methods, the HQE Scheme focuses on 14 different environmental themes, such as energy consumption, daylight availability, acoustic comfort, etc. with objectives such as limitation in energy consumption, minimum daylight levels, adequate reverberation time, etc.
Due to the complexity of the many scientific phenomena involved, advanced calculation procedures are required to measure most environmental performances. For instance, the study of heat transfer through building fabric to determine internal temperature variations and heating/cooling loads or the computation of daylight levels in a room when a building is overshadowed by surrounding obstructions is a complicated task that necessitates the use of computer simulation.
However, if various analysis software are today available, they rarely often the possibility to study all these effects at once. As a consequence, the most time consuming process of drawing the geometry of the building and making the right assignments, often needs to be repeated. This not only leads to a waste of time. It also favors local optimization by considering sequentially each environmental quantity in spite of strong interactions between them.
Thus, it was highly desirable to develop a user-friendly and comprehensive software that could optimize a building’s environmental performances at once.
Within the frame of a six months internship at Le SOMMER Environment – a small Parisian consultancy specialized in building environmental certification – a presentation of the possibilities offered by one such software: Autodesk Ecotect is given through a simple housing project case study.
Author: BARRY, Raphael