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Advanced Technologies for High-Performance Buildings

Advanced building web
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    8 LU/HSW AIA credits available

This is a sponsored event by the Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education.

Until recently, buildings have been designed and constructed like passive monoliths, lacking a central nervous system to collect, process, and act on a multitude of sensory inputs. The potential for buildings to behave like living organisms reacting and adapting to their environments is now being realized through a variety of interconnected building technologies. The symbiosis between buildings and their occupants merges the occupants’ experience with the building’s automated reactions and accommodations, and this relationship can be greatly enhanced through advanced analytics and cyber-physical systems.

This course explores how these data-driven systems make high-performance buildings more sustainable, healthy, and economically feasible, and gives attendees access to holistic strategies to apply to their own projects.

There is tremendous momentum towards utilizing technology in buildings in new ways, enabled by advances in edge computing power, sensors, miniaturization, data collection, and converged networking. These advances have been developed just in time to meet environmental and societal needs for energy savings, carbon emissions reduction, building operational efficiencies, occupant satisfaction, safety, health & wellness, and increased productivity.

This program addresses advances in building technology, including the application of the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital twins, big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, occupancy management, and COVID-era innovations such as touchless navigation and pandemic-level air filtration. These advances are broadly referred to as Intelligent Building Technology, or IBT. The course is designed to guide participants towards understanding these technologies and their applications within their projects – all the way to the practical aspects of creating an intelligent building at different levels of complexity and scales, from smart to autonomous, from a personal level through a building level through an enterprise level. Exercises will allow class members to collaborate on case studies where they can apply the concepts from the lectures to create their own model.

Modern buildings are equipped with a wide variety of sophisticated technology systems that support both the building itself and the purpose of the building. The purpose, of course, is to enable occupants to go about their business and life- which are both becoming more and more digital. This digitalization of nearly every human experience holds great potential to enhance our everyday lives, which are increasingly spent in buildings. We are now realizing that buildings can be designed to include technologies not only to support the systems needed for them to operate, but to foster wellness, ease-of-operation, and a symbiosis with their occupants that is based on the occupants themselves as individuals. This new focus on occupants complements and enhances the traditional emphasis of smart buildings on energy efficiency and maintenance.

With this market demand for intelligent buildings comes the many definitions of this technology that have obscured the purposes. Building Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) teams come into these projects with preconceived notions and a variety of motivations. We find that there are three major categories of these motivations: 1) Altruism/Aspiration: there is a desire to “do the right thing,” to show leadership, or to be a responsible citizen of the community. 2) Mandate, e.g., Government, or Institution: they have been given direction from their administration that they are to pursue certain goals for the building, such as “Net Zero Energy,” or “Carbon Neutral,” and 3) Financial. There is a recognition that there is a Return on Investment from IBT, in a variety of areas, including system optimization through data analytics, efficiencies through automation, and maintenance improvements through fault prediction. Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is now a fourth and important motivation: creating buildings that people are confident are healthy to inhabit.

The process to create an intelligent building needs to be goal-oriented, with a plan for each technical system and each project phase. It is useful to have a guideline for this, and new standards are available to organize the details of each design discipline. One of the useful Standards defines a role on the design team called the Intelligent Building Technology Project Manager, or IBTPM. This is a critical role that is not part of a traditional building design team. The adoption of the use of the Standard by the building owner and the architect assigns authority to implement IBT design decisions to the IBTPM. This provides a single point of contact for all phases of the project and the entire multidisciplinary design team, in much the same way as the Sustainability Consultant provides Commissioning services.

This course is developed from the perspective of the IBTPM, who must consider all of the issues, understand the sophistication and interconnectivity of the systems, and guide the AEC team through the planning, design, administration, and commissioning of the building. It is understood that the biggest challenges – and successes - are with the people who finance, design, build, run, occupy, and maintain the building. Their agreement on the institution’s will, the desired outcomes, and the implementation plan for the project must be guided and earned. Their real-world challenges such as the definitions of goals, the delineation of CapEx and OpEx objectives, pricing considerations for new technologies, and their decisions in selecting new techniques and products will be addressed.

Connected systems that will be discussed in the course include Building Management, HVAC Building Automation, Lighting, Electrical Loads, Physical Security, Audiovisual, Conveyance, Security, and Daylighting Systems, among others. Data collection, analysis and control software will be evaluated, and new advances in Occupancy Management will be considered. Drivers from sustainability and wellness certifications, and new smart building certifications will be reviewed. Building Sciences aspects of design will include IBT applications of energy modelling and indoor air quality. Financial aspects of IBT projects will be presented, with considerations from stimulus packages and connections to larger programs. Finally, sociotechnical issues related to privacy, cybersecurity, and occupant participation will be postulated. Join a stimulating instructor team in exploring the cutting edge of building technologies!

Course Instructor

Joseph Bocchiaro
Principal Consultant, NV5 Engineering & Technology
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