Part L of the latest Building Regulations, which came into force in April 2006, is designed to cut carbon emissions by at least 20 per cent in dwellings and 27 per cent in other buildings, compared to the previous 2002 regulations. AEC Magazine discusses the implications for the building industry with CADlineÝs David Payne, product manager for Cymap.
How big an impact will the new Part L have on architects and building services engineers?
David Payne: This drive to improve energy efficiency in new building design provides a real challenge for the whole building industry. In particular, it will have a profound effect on the traditionally Ùarms lengthÝ relationship between architects and engineers.
Historically, individual products supporting the industry have tended to be developed autonomously. In meeting the demands of this new market however, we have recognised the need to bring together the best technologies to provide an integrated, end-to-end solution designed to speed up the design process.
How would you describe the architect/engineer relationship?
DP: in the past, the architect has been able to complete a design in isolation and then pass it to the building services engineer to design and add in the required services. Where a design has been less than efficient, the engineer has been able to solve the problem at this late stage by, in effect Ùthrowing bigger or better services at itÝ in order to ensure compliance. Under the new more stringent regulations however, engineers will no longer be able to correct an inherently non-compliant design in this way and will need to be involved earlier in the design stage. Whilst architects will have the greatest impact on whether or not a building meets the demands of Part L, the prominence of the engineer will be raised along with the need for better communication between the architect and engineer.
In future, architects will need to work much more closely with their engineering counterparts from the initial concept development of a project to avoid the risk of months of abortive design work with potentially disastrous implications on building costs and the imposition of penalty clauses for late completion.
But does the industry recognise the need for change?
DP: As a provider to the industry, we are convinced of the need for an integrated approach. It is encouraging to see, therefore, that closer collaboration is starting to happen in practice, with positive results. Indeed, we have already seen some architectural practices working closely with consultant engineers to check building services and Part L compliance and we are working hard to help bridge this gap from both a technology and support service perspective.
Yet in order for the two groups of professionals to communicate effectively, their respective design software must also be able to Ùtalk to each otherÝ. In order to make this happen, we are using our experience of both architectural design and building services automation software to develop a fully-integrated, end-to-end software solution.
What does such an integrated solution look like in practice?
DP: Our goal is to bring together three key software products in Cymap, Tas Building Designer and Autodesk Building Systems (ABS). CADlineÝs Cymap building services design solution, for example, offers mechanical and electrical modules and can be used for all forms of commercial & domestic property, both new builds and refurbishments.
It provides comprehensive solutions for heating, cooling and energy consumption, piped and ducted services, and low voltage wiring and lighting design and can be used at all stages of the design process, from initial conception through scheme design to the production of working and as-built drawings. By enabling users to perform both routine and complex calculations associated with heat loss, heat gain and energy consumption at each stage, Cymap allows engineers to improve both productivity and design accuracy.
Next, Tas is a suite of software products, which simulate the dynamic thermal performance of buildings and their systems, enabling users to compare alternative heating/cooling strategies, energy demand and check designs for Part L compliance. The main module is Tas Building Designer, which performs dynamic building simulation with integrated natural and forced airflow.
And finally, ABS provides a building design and construction documentation application for mechanical, engineering and plumbing design and construction professionals based on the AutoCAD software platform ± and in looking ahead to 2007, Revit Systems ± enabling designers and drafters to improve accuracy, productivity and co-ordination.
How important is improved communication in making this happen?
DP: In a word, essential. As stand-alone solutions, Cymap, Tas and ABS each deliver powerful productivity benefits, yet by looking at the bigger picture and bringing them together, we aim to make compliance easier and project delivery smoother and more cost-effective.
To achieve this, Cymap is already linked with AutodeskÝs ABS software and we are well underway to achieving similar collaboration with Tas. The underlying objective is an industry first – to provide intelligent, two-way dataflow throughout the design process, so removing the need to input data more than once which in turn will improve accuracy as well as saving time and money.
By communicating in this way, not only will it ensure compliance but also make design intent communication between the architect and engineer easier and speed project delivery. In short, an integrated approach will make the whole life-cycle of project management more efficient.
As ever, itÝs good to talk.
CADline is a leading building services and design solutions consultancy and Autodesk UK Premier Solutions Partner