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4 December 2017

Greenbuild 2017: HOK Experts Discuss Facade Design Tools, Hospitality and Wellness Research

At this year’s Greenbuild 2017 conference in Boston, HOK’s sustainability experts participated in several panel discussions about optimizing design, understanding local ecologies and measuring wellness.

Facade Design Tools for High-Rise Carbon Neutral Buildings

Apoorv Goyal, sustainable design specialist for HOK in New York, joined Jean Carriere (IES) and Shanta Tucker (Atelier Ten) to discuss the latest advances in energy modeling practices. The presenters emphasized how weather files are one of the core foundations of a model. By adjusting these files for changes to the climate, architects and engineers can optimize buildings for the future impacts of global warming.

During the parametric design or analysis process, managing the enormous amount of data is the biggest challenge, said Goyal. If the data is not translated in a meaningful way, it’s useless. The outputs should provide better information for the building engineers to rightsize equipment while the architects are simultaneously optimizing the design.

HOK and Atelier Ten teams worked with IES to test the new workflow for consolidating all of the optimization tools into one software program for this exercise. The benefit of having one interface means that all involved professionals—architects, engineers, consultants and even the client—can access the same model.

The presenters concluded by noting that an energy model is only as good as the data that is being entered. Open communication and feedback from practitioners are critical in advancing integrated software platforms to advance and serve the building industry.

Checking In on Sustainability in Hotels

Landreneau AnicaDuring this session, Anica Landreneau, firm-wide director of sustainable design, described how HOK approaches sustainability in the hospitality market. Deb Cloutier (JDM Associates), Jim Landau (MetLife Real Estate) and Don Anderson (Blackstone) spoke about how different stakeholders in the hospitality industry employ green practices from the owner, facility manager and consultant perspectives. The panel identified six trends driving sustainability in hospitality: materiality, performance, intelligence, guest experience, resiliency and research.

Landreneau used two recent HOK projects to explain how the designers look to regional influences and environmental conditions to inform the design process. For a recent master plan in Playa Blanca, Colombia, the team employed passive strategies and low-tech design to create a framework for achieving net-zero energy and water. As sustainability consultants, HOK’s challenge was to create a master plan with the least environmental impact on the site. “The healthy ecosystem is the greatest asset of the Playa Blanca resort,” said Landreneau.

For a recent hospitality design competition called Radical Innovation, HOK’s Driftscape entry introduced a drone hotel concept that would have virtually zero impact on the site.

From Lab to Workplace: Research Advancing Health & Well-Being

Mara Baum, sustainable design leader based in HOK’s San Francisco office, participated in a lively panel exploring the challenges of first collecting and then applying research in the built environment specific to health and wellness initiatives.

David Lehrer (CBE UC Berkeley), Dana Pillai (Delos) and Kara Freihoefer (HGA Architecture & Engineering) all agreed that getting accurate and actionable feedback from occupants can be difficult. Translating that data into design work is the next challenge.

“How do we think about research in the design process? How do we assess and apply all of this data?”, Baum asked the audience. By initiating partnerships with third-party organizations, firms can examine their own work more objectively and critically.

Designers need to be able to digest enormous amounts of research and act on those findings during the design process. Stakeholders from academia, research and design need to continue collaborating and sharing knowledge about health and wellness in the building industry.