Foster + Partners - Closing the Performance Gap


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Global architecture and engineering practice, Foster + Partners is using IES Virtual Environment (IESVE) to deliver the best environmentally friendly design outcomes for its clients, putting sustainability at the heart of every project.

Key Facts

  • IESVE main software used throughout pre-design and design stages
  • Detailed modelling for Samson Pavilion and Beijing Office Tower
  • Samson Pavilion achieved LEED Gold
  • IESVE modelling kept Beijing Office Tower in line with China's carbon neutrality targets

With the help of IESVE, Foster + Partners design and engineering teams are creating buildings that meet emissions and energy performance targets, fulfil client briefs and ensure optimal occupant wellbeing and comfort.

Energy and performance analysis is embedded into the design process from the earliest stages, allowing for accurate performance predictions, backed up by detailed data. This helps to eliminate the chance of a performance gap between the predicted energy performance of a building and its actual in-use performance.

In order to carry out this early-stage analysis, the environmental engineering team at Foster + Partners is using the IESVE as its main software throughout the pre-design and design stages, which is fundamental to laying the foundations for a high-performance project. The software informs both architectural and mechanical design and allows the team to meet increasing requirements for low carbon and low energy design briefs.

Energy modelling is a crucial stage in the design process, and the IES software allows for detailed modelling and in-depth analysis, in a system that can be integrated with other tools to save time and make for more efficient and accurate decision making. By incorporating this technology into the passive and active design elements, as well as using it to analyse the feasibility of using renewable energy for a project, it informs design decisions at every stage.

Samson Pavilion, Cleveland, US

Technology that allows for detailed modelling has helped the environmental engineering team at Foster + Partners to overcome difficult project challenges such as those posed by the Samson Pavilion. The team were commissioned by the Cleveland Clinic to design the Samson Pavilion, a new health pavilion for the campus.

Cleveland’s seasonal variations in temperature, ranging from 35°C in summer to -17°C in winter meant the building’s energy efficiency was particularly important.

The team used IESVE to complete the extensive modelling required to analyse how the building could be energy efficient, as well as maximising thermal comfort through a range of very different building functions and adaptable spaces. This approach has proved highly successful in operation as HVAC systems have been able to adapt to graduation ceremonies, Presidential debates and the creation of a temporary Covid ward.

With the project targeting LEED Gold Standard, the energy credits had to be accurately estimated from the outset. To achieve this, energy models were updated and performance criteria validated at each design stage and when any significant changes were put forward.

Foster + Partners’ Environmental Engineering team used IESVE to benchmark the project against ASHRAE 90.1 for the energy performance, and ASHRAE 55 for the thermal comfort performance.

The office tower project, Beijing

The environmental engineering team have also designed a new office tower for the core CBD area of Beijing. This project sets a precedent for future low carbon office buildings and also has a particular focus on wellbeing. In order to align with the Chinese government’s carbon neutrality targets, the team carried out simulation and optimisation work using IESVE to reduce the building’s operational energy use.

To keep the energy performance of the building on track, the team used the Apache HVAC application and the LEED PRM application. Additionally, the MacroFlo application was used to enhance the natural ventilation performance in key areas of the building. To obtain more accurate natural ventilation results and correct the external wind coefficient, the external CFD simulation was also used.

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