Diamond Schmitt Architects unveil energy-use analysis tool

Diamond Schmitt Architects is taking a leadership role in the development of a sustainable design databank focused on energy-use reduction. ecoMetrics allows for a comprehensive analysis of data from energy simulation models across a wide range of the company’s building types. The tool was unveiled recently at the Canada Green Building Council’s conference in Vancouver.

“What began as a response to The 2030 Challenge for energy efficiency in buildings evolved into a powerful, interactive visual database containing energy simulation models for more than 40 of our LEED-certified projects and other projects with energy simulation models,” said Birgit Siber, principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects, who is co-presenting ecoMetrics with Mike Williams of RWDI Consulting Engineers. “This tool comes from the recognition that energy use in the building sector is the most difficult and pressing sustainable design challenge,” she added.

The ecoMetrics database contributes to an informed discussion on appropriate energy-use reduction targets among clients, consultants, trades and architects by taking into consideration the many determinants of energy use efficiency, including location, building type, passive initiatives (orientation, massing, thermal performance) and active systems (mechanical and electrical systems) and distills the data into one simple formula: kWhr/m2/year – kilowatt use per square metre of space per year.

“This allows for a detailed comparative analysis, which is a major step forward in informing energy-demand decisions in the future,” said Mike Szabo, principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects. ecoMetrics highlights design factors impacting energy efficiency such as volume-to-floor area efficiency; ratio of glazing to wall; occupancy loads and specific program requirements including ventilation rates; and HVAC system efficiency.

“The power of data visualization is that it allows us to break down the energy use equation in order to ask the right questions to facilitate and drive innovation,” Szabo added. “We’re measuring performance so that we can manage our projects, strive for net-zero energy use, bring value to our client, our team, and contribute to the public discourse on energy-use reduction.”