Eco-testing a building before it is even built


Architects and engineers all over the world are inventing new ways to reduce the time, cost, and risk of constructing energy-efficient, high-performance buildings. Data-intensive analysis plays a key role in the design of “green” buildings—but the high cost of such analysis can be prohibitive to these eco-pioneers. Microsoft Azure Azure provides a way to help building designers perform complex data analysis cost-efficiently—and quickly—facilitating the design of energy-efficient buildings.
Using pre-fabricated parts and fast computers
Despite the global demand for sustainably-designed buildings, many design businesses face practical implementation challenges, such as the time-intensive process of performing computer simulations, and the expenses of the powerful technology that is needed to reduce execution time, sustainable design specialists, and computer aided design (CAD) software. The good news: cloud computing has tremendous potential to change all of that.
Green Prefab, a small startup company in Italy, is working with Microsoft Research Connections and the Royal Danish Academy to develop next-generation tools that will one day allow in-depth simulations of a building’s performance—before it's built. This innovative approach is possible by using Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s open and powerful public cloud platform—to provide inexpensive data-intensive analysis.
Green Prefab is developing a library of prefabricated green building components that can be used to design eco-friendly buildings. Architects will be able to access civil engineering services, via the cloud, to produce energy efficiency reports, conduct in-depth structural analysis, and view photo-realistic preview images of the building. Green Prefab has teamed up with Microsoft Research Connections to develop some of the first tools for Microsoft Azure.
One essential ingredient of Green Prefab’s industrialized approach is its use of a data model that was developed for the construction industry in the 1990s by an international consortium known as buildingSMART. The buildingSMART model is an open format that makes it easy to exchange and share building information modeling (BIM) data between applications that were developed by different software vendors.
The open format of buildingSMART's data model has made it easier for Green Prefab to model prefabricated green building components. New tools that use massive computational power to simulate building performance will help the sustainable building industry.
Developing energy simulations
With the goal of making it possible for engineers and architects to analyze complex building scenarios extremely quickly, Green Prefab and the Institute of Architectural Technology of the Royal Danish Academy collaborated to validate the potential usefulness of building performance energy simulations in the cloud.
The Royal Danish Academy conducted an experiment that used Green Prefab’s prototype web-based tools with the supercomputer in Barcelona, Spain, to execute parametric energy simulations of buildings by using the power of cloud computing.
The design of the test building reflected the floor space, occupancy, and environmental setting of a standard office in Copenhagen, Denmark. In order to understand the advantages of the proposed service, in comparison to conventional ways of using simulations, a parallel experiment was conducted. Starting from the same building design, the same architect conceived and tested 50 design options with a standard dual-core PC.
The cloud-based approach achieved approximately twice the potential energy savings, 33 percent, compared to only 17 percent for the conventional approach. It also reduced computing time significantly. Running the 220,184 parametric simulations on a standard dual-core PC would have taken 122 days; running those same energy simulations in the cloud took only three days.
Reducing building time, cost, and risk
The wide adoption of cloud-based civil engineering tools could radically reshape the green building industry; Green Prefab's photo-realistic, 3-D illustrations of buildings in design are just the first step. By producing digital, full-detailed models of a building, Green Prefab expects to be able to guarantee its appearance and performance, save construction time, and reduce costs as much as 30 percent.
Even small architectural firms will be able to control costs in the pre-construction phase and reduce uncertainties during construction as civil engineering tools in the cloud become available to small and medium-sized architecture and engineering firms around the world.
Microsoft’s collaboration with Green Prefab presents an optimistic picture of a future in which new cloud-based tools help reduce the energy consumption of buildings substantially. Such scientific breakthroughs will facilitate a shift towards building more environmentally friendly buildings that use energy and water efficiently, reduce waste, and provide a healthy environment for working and living.


Today’s businesses are looking to succeed by working smarter, faster and more efficiently, and construction companies are no different in that regard. Where they do often differ from most other businesses is in their structure. Many construction companies have lots of employees in numerous offices scattered across the country and sometimes the globe. This presents challenges in building a scalable and secure IT environment for their employees.
How are some of the leading construction companies meeting this challenge of providing effective computing and productivity solutions to their dispersed workforces? They’re doing it by teaming up with Microsoft, the world leader in cloud computing and trusted partner with over 30 years experience providing enterprise solutions for businesses. Let’s take a closer look at three examples of how Microsoft is helping the construction industry.
  • At the heart of any construction company is project work and management. Construction solutions firm Hilti Corporation was looking to coordinate projects in its offices in over 20 countries spread out over 6 continents. How did Hilti keep its projects organized and moving forward when contributors where scattered across different time zones around the world? Hilti chose Office 365 and Microsoft Project Online over a homegrown solution for the security and global availability with the added flexibility to quickly scale out and up – all at a fraction of the cost of building their own solution. See how Hilti bolsters its bottom line with Microsoft Project! >>>
Learn why more and more businesses are playing it smart and trusting Microsoft to help them with their cloud computing needs. See how Microsoft Office 365 delivers the productivity tools we’ve all learned to trust like Word and Excel, along with services and apps like Sharepoint, Skype and Project that allow teams, whether local or remote, to work efficiently and collaboratively.


Molly Wardell, COO Wardell Builders, explains why they choose Managed Solution as their trusted technology partner in this customer testimonial. S

Wardell Builders is a team made up of dedicated professionals who all know the importance of creating value in a home. They have been building custom homes for decades and have been recognized for their attention to detail, quality results, clear communication and on-track progress. Wardell has won a range of both national and local awards from the National Custom Home Builder Award to the BIA Award for Customer Satisfaction.

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