Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) discussed in Green Tech Media Article-School of Architecture - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, November 29, 2010

Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) discussed in Green Tech Media Article

"Networked Regions 2.0: Pittsburgh’s Sustainable Renaissance"

An excerpt from a recent Green Tech Media Article by H. Christine Richards

...Digitally building for sustainability

After hanging out downtown with Sustainable Pittsburgh, I cruised on over to Carnegie Mellon University, which is well known for its work in the smart grid arena, as well as for incorporating more sensors into critical infrastructure through a program known as theCenter for Sensed Critical Infrastructure Research (CenSCIR). I wanted to expand the discussion beyond the smart grid itself, so I stopped by the architecture department for a chat about digitizing buildings. Of course, I was reminded that energy touches everything.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, Carnegie Mellon is participating in a regional effort, known as the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster, which focuses on developing energy-efficient buildings. Stephen Lee, professor and head of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Architecture, discussed one of the roles Carnegie Mellon will be taking on in the project. “We’re looking to refine and expand the digital platform for buildings, so they will be a part of the entire lifecycle of the building. From the moment you conceive of the building, you will be able to test its energy efficiency, lighting performance and ventilation. That digital model will be passed on to the construction entity, and they will use the digital model to construct the building. It will then be passed on to the commissioning phase where they will actually set up and test all of the equipment to make sure it is achieving all of its specs. Finally, the model will be passed on to the facilities managers so they can operate the building.”

Creating digital platforms for buildings won’t be easy, and not because of the technology. Professional liability implications often limit the ability of architects and building contractors to work together. “The technology exists,” noted Lee. “But the profession hasn’t caught on yet with the idea of a shared model.”
In the spirit of looking regionally, I wondered what has to happen to make the leap from digitizing an individual building to digitizing a region’s worth of them. “The questions that will need to be answered are scalability and modularity,” said Lee. “So, if you have 100 buildings in a complex and each one has a huge repository of data, what are the scalability issues of making all the data available to the utility company or the campus owner that’s at the next level up? You have to ask this every time you ‘bump up’ from the individual building to a group of buildings, from a group of buildings to a neighborhood that they’re in, from the neighborhood to the city or region that they’re in.”

View Full Article [Link]

By: H. Christine Richards