One of the arguments being levied today regarding sustainable design is whether appropriate consideration is given to site and energy analysis sooner rather than later. With green building codes being adopted nationally and the draft of LEED 2012 open for public comment, it would appear that this should now be considered a priority for project teams, sooner rather than later. In fact, LEED 2012 rating systems start with a brand new category – Integrated Process, awarding credit for project teams holding charrettes, team meetings and conducting a thorough site assessment. Additionally, the Sustainable Sites category is being split, with a reduction in the type of sites that can be considered and a more focused direction towards urban development and redevelopment.
Many professionals argue the inherent difficulties with assembling a project team as early as the preliminary design phase. Or they believe proper site and energy analysis merely involves proper orientation of the project on the site. Neither of these defenses are valid for sustainable projects. Many sites offer few or no options for site orientation, urban redevelopment being a prime example. With the available engineering options today, such as BIM software, there should be no excuse for not performing early site and energy analysis. Autodesk acquired Revit in 2002 from Revit Technology Corporation. Having purchased Revit prior to the Autodesk acquisition and being a member of Autodesk’s Revit Beta Testing Team, I’ve been witness to the maturation of the Revit family into one of the leading BIM solutions today. In a move to enable architects and engineers to design more sustainable projects, Autodesk acquired Ecotech and Green Building Studio in 2008. Certainly there are other solutions available today than the offerings from Autodesk, the point is there are solutions that allow intelligent site and energy assessment at the preliminary design phase.
A building’s sustainability is largely determined by key decisions made at the early conceptual design stage. In fact, according to Autodesk, 80 percent of a project’s environmental impact is determined by decisions made in the design phase.