Sustainable Façade for High-Performance Green Buildings

Q.1.How does the design of a façade help in enhancing the efficiency & overall functioning/working of a building?

When we discuss about façade, images of beautifully designed exteriors comes to mind. Most of the time, façades are associated with aesthetics of a building without much consideration of functional or utilitarian aspects. Analyzing the building performance, it can be found that façades are an important component of building envelope contributing to enormous heat ingress due to solar gain. In fact, a well-designed façade system can actually improve energy efficiency and improve comfort level of occupants and ultimately boosting the overall building performance.

At Conserve, we incorporate the various design principles for façades through climate analysis; building orientation and sun path analysis, day-lighting analysis, materials selection process etc.  During the design development, if the glazing and shading aspects of a façade are leveraged upon, overall energy efficiency would automatically reach to a new level leading to exemplary performance. Lastly, but not the least, the ultimate goal of occupant comfort and productivity is not to be compromised upon.

Q.2. What does the term ‘intelligent façade’ signify?

In contemporary architecture, intelligent building façade is gaining popularity in the form of automated façade systems which reduce energy consumption, improve the indoor comfort level and maintain indoor environmental quality. The intelligent façade is basically a dynamic and flexible system which is acclimated to outdoor environment or weather change. It also takes care of the occupant needs while balancing the thermal impact with respect to climatic conditions throughout the year. In short, intelligent façade acts as an essential barrier between comfortable indoor and uncontrolled outdoor.

Nowadays, various innovative technologies are evolving into sustainable façade solution offerings which are responsive to different environmental conditions and target the unique needs of sustainable buildings in different climatic zones. In future, responsive façade systems of high-performance sustainable buildings will be designed to intelligently interact with HVAC and lighting systems.

Q.3. What role does the material used for the façade play in energy performance?

Among the different main constituents of building envelopes, facades have a significant contribution towards sustainable design development. Façades are intended to regulate heat and light exchange while producing comfortable indoor environments with reduced energy consumption.  Right materials can determine the façade performance when selected after considering the building physics and active energy systems, thereby creating high performance built-environment.

There are various challenges in a built-environment such as excessive air leakage and infiltration, thermal discomfort, lack of ventilation, visual discomfort, poor indoor air quality etc. Proper selection of materials with respect to local climate, outdoor environment, and indoor spaces with respect to design parameters and performance requirementsviz. energy performance, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, visual comfort etc. will lead to overall reduction of energy load.

Q.4. Tell us about new architectural and construction products developed that can be applied in the designing of a building to enhance energy efficiency.

Extending the discussion of architectural and construction production pertinent to façade- there are numerous terminologies being used in building industry such as kinetic facades, ventilated facades, solar PV facades which are aiming to reduce the energy efficiency and also to achieve the ambitious  target of Net Zero Energy. Traditional façade solutions such as louvers and fins are also being incorporated along with the adaptive facades. 

Conserve is a product neutral organization and hence we do not endorse any specific offerings. As per our policy, we suggest the technical specifications and provide a choice to the project owner in terms of sustainable building materials. Generally speaking, the façade solutions and products being developed are aiming to provide exterior facades solutions and interior shades in order to control buildings’ exposure to environmental conditions such as direct sunlight, noise and wind. In addition, high-performance glasses with appropriate U-Value, R-Value, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient and Visible Light Transmittance coefficient can enhance the energy efficiency.

Q.5. To what extent can energy be conserved by adopting energy modeling techniques in architecture?

Energy modeling techniques can be deployed to understand the various intricacies of the building envelope and enclosures. The major objective during the whole series of iterative set of processes is to enhance the energy efficiency as much as possible. The findings from energy modeling are to be employed in the form of various passive architectural design strategies during design development.

At Conserve, we ensure that the heat ingress is minimized to have a greater energy efficiency through reduction of cooling load by virtue of building design parameters of envelop (including façade design, ventilation, shading etc.) with respect to different climatic regions. When compared to traditionally-designed conventional buildings, energy modeling backed sustainable green building can achieve 30-50% energy consumption compared to base building, thereby paving way for sustainable built-environment. Targeting exemplary performance, energy modeling  can also help in achieving 100% energy efficiency and above in the form of net zero and net positive building.

Again, the energy modeling and simulations should be performed during the early stage of architectural design process. During the design development of built-environment our CertificationPLUS service ensures translating the sustainable insights into tangibles forms. For example, passive architectural façade elements can inherently lead to low energy building by virtue of design.

Q.6. What is the level of adoption of Passive cooling techniques in India?

At Conserve, we believe that sustainable buildings are a result of a coordinated processwhere the creativity of architects and innovation of building engineers are integrated in a seamless way. The sustainable goal should be to strike a balance between the building aesthetics and building performance.  Backed up with the experience of 250+ sustainable green buildings projects over a period of 11 years, I would say that the passive architectural and cooling techniques are gradually being disseminated in India.  However, the level of adoption is relatively low when compared to early adopter nations.

Overall the green footprint for sustainable buildings is large, but the passive design strategies are not adopted in majority of the projects. In some cases, the decision to aim for a sustainable project is taken at a later stage of project life cycle. During the design development, there is a larger scope to leverage upon the passive architectural techniques within a budgeted cost. Subsequently, the creative opportunity for passive building design diminishes.

Juzer S Kothari, Managing Director, Conserve Consultants Pvt. Ltd.


This article has been originally published in Architecture Update Magazine August 2016 Issue

Mr. Juzer S Kothari is Managing Director of Conserve Consultants. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from the prestigious IIT Kharagpur. Mr. Juzer is one of early adopter of green building technologies in India ; a LEED Accredited Professional (from United States Green Building Council-USGBC) since 2007 and a Certified Trainer for GRIHA Rating System. He is a part of ‘Train the Trainers’ faculty programme of National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Department of Energy- USA, for their Energy Simulation Software. A Certified Energy Auditor and Manager from Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Energy, Government of India and ECBC Empanelled Expert (Energy Conservation Building Code, a UNDP-GEF-BEE programme). Mr. Juzer has been in the energy industry for the last 30+ years including 11 years of super specialized expertise pertinent to high performance, sustainable green buildings. He is the recipient of LEED Fellow Award 2016 by GBCI-USGBC for his pioneering contribution to green building movement.

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