AHeisserer's picture

Quality Views Calculator

For all of our LEED projects, we calculate the percentage of regularly occupied spaces that have exterior views. By developing this quality views tool in Grasshopper, we can now automate this calculation process and make it possible to analyze large projects that would be difficult to calculate manually. We can also get a better idea of the quality of exterior views in each space in addition to the pass/fail criteria used for LEED. The views calculator was first used to analyze the new dining hall at Georgia Tech to see how it performed in blurring the line between indoor and outdoor dining...
coreysquire's picture

The 2030 End Game

With the 7th year of reporting for the 2030 commitment underway, it's worthwhile to pause and think about how the next 13 years might play out. Reporting for the commitment started back in 2011 with a goal of achieving an across the board net-zero energy portfolio by 2030. Initially, the energy reduction target was set at 60% and every five years, the target shifts down 10% until 100% energy reduction is achieved in year 2030. So far, the actual reductions reported by committed firms have not matched the ambition of the original goals. Since 2011, the aggregate reduction of all reporting...
coreysquire's picture

Instantly Actionable

How can a simulation report (energy model report, daylight model report, etc.) be most useful? This is a question we've been focusing on as we revamp and streamline the way we perform in-house simulations. The guiding principle for developing a new report format is " instantly actionable". Project teams should see a report and know which parts of the project are doing well and what improvements can be made. With this goal in mind, we identified a few characteristics of a new energy model report: Graphic Display - Most energy models are presented in the form of charts and tables. This is great...
AHeisserer's picture

2016 Energy Calendars

These six radial calendars show the energy-use patterns of six Lake Flato projects in 2016. The hourly data we collect from our eMonitors can be plotted into a single graphic with a Grasshopper script and reviewed to understand energy patterns and anomalies that wouldn't be apparent through numerical data alone. How to Read the Calendars Each dot represents an hour of energy, and each row represents a day, moving from midnight on the inside of the circle to 11 pm on the outside. A dot with a larger radius means higher energy use, typically ranging from about 0 to 50 watt hours per hour. The...
coreysquire's picture

The State of Simulation

It's generally agreed that building performance simulation is the best method for realizing a building’s sustainability potential. In theory, a project team will run an energy or daylight simulation to study the hypothetical performance of a design and then use the simulation outcomes to make targeted improvements. This process promises to improve the efficiency, comfort, and all-around performance of a design. In the architecture community, building performance simulation is such a significant component of sustainable design that for 2030 reporting, the metric “percent of floor area modeled...
Heather Gayle Holdridge's picture

Dixon Water Foundation Josey Pavilion: The First Living Building in Texas

We are excited to announce that the Dixon Water Foundation Josey Pavilion has achieved Living Building Challenge certification, making it the first Living Building in the State of Texas and 9th Living Building in the world. The Josey Pavilion physically embodies and reinforces the Dixon Water Foundation’s mission as a fully restorative Living Building and demonstration tool. This case study reveals how the meeting and education center achieves the standards required for certification.
rbruce's picture


Goat Mountain Ranch, a ranch house overlooking the Nueces River, recently earned LEED certification. The project is sited on an intermediate bluff overlooking the expansive Nueces River Valley to the southwest and upward towards views of Goat Mountain and a bowl-shaped ridge encircling the site’s northern half. Outfitted in natural and local materials that weather gracefully, the home features materials the owner collected over time from her family’s Louisiana farm. Reclaimed wood siding is incorporated in ceilings and interior walls while steel kettles, once used for boiling sugar cane, are...
AHeisserer's picture

Liftfund Daylight Testing

Last year, we went to the new LiftFund Headquarters in San Antonio to collect daylighting measurements. Collecting real data tells us how accurate our daylighting simulation was, and gives us invaluable information about which strategies are working and which are not. First, we mark off a 5‐foot grid in every regularly occupied space and take a measurement of footcandles at each point with a light meter. Measurements are typically taken at 9 AM or 3 PM, near one of two solar equinoxes. Each data point is entered in Excel, and the missing points are extrapolated from the data we have. Then we...
AHeisserer's picture

Energy Monitoring at the Prow

Last month we installed an eMonitor on the Prow, a porch house in the Davis Mountains. This is our first time monitoring an off-the-grid project, and our most remote installation so far. eMonitors track the energy use of individual electric circuits, and transmit the data in real time to an online account where it can be observed and analyzed. Owners can use this feedback to make informed decisions about energy use and save significantly on their energy bills, and we can improve future design decisions based on real data. After a 7 hour drive through west Texas, we arrived in Fort Davis. We...
AHeisserer's picture

Hardberger Park Earns LEED Gold

The Urban Ecology Center, a visitor center and event facility for Phil Hardberger Park in San Antonio, officially earned LEED Gold certification this week. In collaboration with landscape architects Stephen Stimson & Associates and Rialto Studio, the buildings’ architecture and its surrounding landscape perform in concert to teach strategies for sustainable water usage and collection. The program houses office space for the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy, public restrooms, outdoor classrooms and a large event hall. The center contributes to an already rich and diverse park as well as...