(by)Metrics (by)Design: Building for Endurance
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University of Washington Master's Thesis Abstract (by)Metrics (by)Design: Building for Endurance David Ronald Fish Chair of Supervisory Committee: Asst. Professor Kathrina Simonen, Chair Department of Architecture College of Built Environments Abstract Sustainability is not just about efficiency but also longevity. Enduring building design is flexible enough to change with future needs and uses material and energy efficiently. If configured properly with good detailing and infrastructural design they will endure through multiple cycles of use and be adaptable to changing needs. Studying the Bullitt Center in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, this thesis demonstrates how a long lifespan in a high performance building could be an effective strategy for sustainable design. It looks into the Bullitt Center to evaluate how it would be flexible enough to be commercially viable for 250 years. It also investigates how lifecycle assessment (LCA) can be used to provide credibility through metrics to the call for longer, more enduring buildings. Architects, engineers, indeed all of society should care about what happens with the built environment. With the amount of energy used by buildings, approximately 48 QBTUs in 2009 alone , there is significant alarm as to how that energy is being used. Most of that energy, about 88% of it, went into the operation of building, the systems, lighting, etc. That other 12%, or about 6 QBTUs, is embodied in the materials and the construction process. That seemingly small amount is the focus of this research because over time the impact of that 12% will grow considerably and become a significant part of a building's impact due to the dramatic shift toward higher energy efficiency standards. This research thesis examined the Bullitt Center with two points of evaluation: - Create an environment profile of its initial embodied energy and carbon and then project how this will look throughout its long life - Evaluate the detailing, configuration and infrastructural design to see how it is set up for adaptability and how can other buildings learn from it Building this profile will illuminate how much environmental impact can be allocated to a building's materials and construction, as the Bullitt Center is design to be a net-zero operational energy building and to last viably for 250 years. This profile was built and evaluated using standard and modified lifecycle assessment (LCA) methods. Three methods were employed, standard tools, hybrid modeling and economic input/output (EIO). Six versions were modeled and the results compared to better understand how LCA can be useful in determining where a designer should focus their attention to on building assemblies that will wield a greater environmental footprint in a long-life building. It is the position of this thesis that careful consideration during design phases focusing on three areas will enhance the enduring qualities of any building: Configuration, Infrastructural design and Detailing. The Bullitt Center was again evaluated in these respects to exemplify how it is intentionally design to last for 250 years. What lessens can be learned here and applied to other buildings? The techniques employed are shown to be simple and straightforward, require little additional material and without adding costs. The detailing is not extraordinarily different, only arranged in a more intentional way. The architects were able to optimize the materials used allowing them to pull "double duty" with regard to being compositional elements while aiding in the building's performance. This is resource efficiency. This research yielded these recommendations for lifecycle management and building for endurance: * LCA is not about precision but overall orders of magnitude leading to lifecycle management. * Integration of LCA into practice will probably come in combination of regulation and incentives. * The use of EPDs in specifications can be used as a pre-qualification of product performance * Architects need to frame lifecycle thinking as a value-adding proposition, not as a barrier. * Design with practical mechanisms for repairability making it easier to maintain and update. * Bring longevity into the conversation: construction costs, energy costs, and maintenance & repair. * Consider longevity and durability on a multitude of scales: small, mid sized and planning.
- Architecture