Why Simulate Buildings?

Data-Driven Decision-Making (DDDM) is a crucial part of doing business. What started as a niche practice has developed into an everyday practice for leading organisations in virtually every industry, with proven capacity to capture value[1]. It is used for operational, structured decision-making as well as strategic, unstructured decision-making. But what is it, and how does it fit into Building Engineering and Design?

By growing levels of maturity, the decision-making analytics process may be understood as shown in the image below. As the analytical models grow in complexity, so does its potential for capturing new value. This happens as decisions are progressively based more on true insights, and less on the intuition of the decision-maker. Simulation tools may be applied anywhere from Diagnostic to Prescriptive analytics, depending on the complexity of the model. Measurement is the most primitive form of analytics, simulation provides knowledge of higher value, and optimisation searches for the best possible combination of all decision variables.

Source: TBM Consulting Group

In the field of building engineering, not all knowledge is technical. There is significant popular knowledge that may be sourced and combined with optimal engineering practices. That is, coexistence of intuition with analysis. This is essential for the development of urban areas — the best of each field may be sourced to build energy-efficient buildings that stay in harmony with existing practices. This is where simulation tools come into the scene: inclusion of analytical thinking into early stages of the design process provides a wide array of alternatives that may be otherwise invisible to the designers and engineers, and too costly to consider in late stages of construction. Some applications:

  • Comparing of (traditional and Innovative) insulation materials for a façade renovation
  • Analysing photovoltaic potential of a site and convenience of solar panels
  • Studying the effect of possible future buildings surrounding the designer’s site
  • Understanding the effect of current and future climate on the thermal comfort of a building

Simulation models have proven positive effects on the design process. They may be used to reduce energy intensity of a building (energy use per square meter), increase positive environmental impact, increase thermal comfort, optimise lighting of spaces — applications are endless. Once validated with reality, their potential is most significant, as scenarios and variables may be tested with relatively low computational costs and known uncertainty levels. For instance, sensitivity of indoor human wellbeing to weather events has been tested in Southern Europe by using multiple weather profiles and analysing the effect of each simulation run on thermal comfort, keeping all other parameters constant[2].

At Dosta Tec, we believe in a collaborative model between engineers and designers. This is one of the keys to evolve the built environment into a clean, healthy, and energy-efficient version of itself that integrates into the urban landscape.

Mateo Barbero

co-founder

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[1] Orlando Troisi, Gennaro Maione, Mara Grimaldi, Francesca Loia, “Growth hacking: Insights on data-driven decision-making from three firms”, Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 90 (2020) 10.1016/j.indmarman.2019.08.005

[2] A. Curado, V.P. de Freitas, “Influence of thermal insulation of facades on the performance of retrofitted social housing buildings in Southern European countries”, Sustainable Cities and Society, Volume 48 (2019) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2019.101534

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