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Using Building Information Modeling for Green Interior Simulations and Analyses

Young S. Lee, Ph.D., Michigan State University


ABSTRACT

There is a growing trend of green building design that relies on technologies and computer simulations based on building information modeling (BIM) during the design process. Green building project teams are increasingly adopting BIM due to its capabilities of analyzing and simulating various design scenarios to make informed decisions to achieve green objectives. However, there is currently a gap in the technological approach to achieving green design in interior design. In order for interior designers to make informed decisions for effective green interior designs, interior designers need to understand the critical functions of BIM-based simulations and analyses in achieving green interior environments. This exploratory paper intended to discuss how BIM can be used for green simulations during the design process and to provide a framework for incorporating BIM-based green simulations and analyses to interior design projects based on four categories found from literature review. Four types of methods included are visual analysis, prescriptive analysis, web-based external simulation, and external simulation and visualization. Four types of methods were examined with case studies performed in an interior design course over 3 years. The course utilized BIM and BIM-based external building performance simulation and analysis tools to achieve green interior environments. Lastly, the paper discusses interior design pedagogical issues with using BIM-based simulations and analyses including student learning experiences as well as the challenges and benets of incorporating green simulations to interior design projects.

Introduction
In the midst of the green design movement, there is a growing trend that relies on technologies and computer simulations to make better design decisions during the design process. The most popular technology used in the architecture & design (A&D) industry is building information modeling (BIM). Green building project teams are increasingly adopting BIM to achieve green objectives because of its capabilities of analyzing and simulating design options during the design process. Optimizing building performance for sustainability practices through BIM-based simulations and analyses is becoming an integral part of the mainstream practice in the A&D industry because BIM technology allows the direct input of building geometry to the analysis programs unlike the traditional practice where a separate modeling for building performance is done by other experts (Khemlani, 2009). A&D rms are conducting the real-time analysis of design decisions in-house via BIM and BIM-based

external simulation tools during the design process for faster and more holistic green building solutions (Herjeczki, 2010). This is a substantial change from the conventional design process where architectural drafting or 3D modeling computer programs are not integral to the design process but rather to only the documentation and presentation. BIM is used throughout the design process and is valued also for predesign (29%) and schematic design (40%) (Young, Jones, Bernstein, & Gudgel, 2009). The new approach to complex sustainable solutions is integrated design in which various building professions participate in the project from the beginning. This reduces the number of errors and achieves better sustainable building solutions based on the consensus between various building professions. Such integrated design is possible because BIM technology facilitates the collaborative team approach between various professions in building industry. However, there is a gap in the technological approach to achieving green design between the architecture,

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This paper intends to open a dialog on how building information modeling (BIM) can be integrated to the design process to achieve green objectives and to provide a framework for incorporating BIM-based green simulations and analyses to interior design projects.

engineering, and construction (AEC) community and the interior design community. Interior designers do not play a signicant role in this approach. Even though integrated design between various built environment professions is pursued, interior designers are frequently not included. To produce future interior designers who can make informed decisions for effective green designs and become partners on the green building project teams undertaking the technological green design approach, it is important to educate them about the critical functions of BIM-based simulations and analyses in achieving green interior environments. This paper intends to open a dialog on how BIM can be integrated to the design process to achieve green objectives and to provide a framework for incorporating BIM-based green simulations and analyses to interior design projects based on four categories found from the literature review. Case studies are developed and examined from projects exercised in an interior design course over 3 years. As this is a new discourse, the study is exploratory. The paper also discusses interior design pedagogy with using BIM-based simulations and analyses for green interiors and includes student learning experiences as well as the challenges and benets in interior design education.

of a design education in lling the gap between the current state of education and the expectations from the practitioner community (Cramer & Gaboury, 2011). These developments are all interrelated to the emergence of BIM and its capacity in building performance simulations and analyses. The current AEC industry is moving to a technologically driven practice in the search for measurable evidence of the effectiveness of green projects. BIM is a new technology that utilizes digital building modeling instead of analog drawings (National Institute of Building Science, 2011). According to the National Institute of Building Sciences (2011), BIM is not mere 3D modeling of a building but rather refers to a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility based on modern communication methods of digital modeling processes. By 2009, BIM had been adopted by almost half of the AEC industry, an exponential growth of 75% increase in 2 years since 2007, and BIM users were planning to substantially further increase their use of the BIM technology (Young et al., 2009). BIM was more widely implemented in the top 100 architecture rms, as 94% of the survey participants from these companies reported using it (Bender, 2010). According to the users, the top benets include easier and better coordination between various software and personnel involving in the project, improved productivity, improved communication, and improved quality control (Young, Jones, & Bernstein, 2008).

Literature Review
Current Trends and BIM
Twenty-ve trends that will transform A&D by 2015 were predicted by eld experts in the January 2011 issue of Design Intelligence (American Society of Interior Design, 2011). The rst trend was the wide adoption of BIM and the use of BIM to its full capacity including energy analyses (Cramer & Gaboury, 2011). The second trend was increasing demand for sustainable design for most projects. Other trends included expectations for a higher level of interdisciplinary collaboration, evidence-based design across all building types, energy performance simulation enabled by BIM conducted in the early stage of design by the design team, and the struggle

BIM and Green Design


The potential of technology in achieving green design has recently been realized through the incorporation of BIM to built environment design projects. The use of BIM in green projects is expected to grow substantially in the following years. In a recent survey, 78% of BIM users who currently do not utilize green simulations available in BIM anticipated doing so in 3 years, and 88% of them expected to use BIM on small green retrot projects in 2 years (Bernstein, Jones, & Russo, 2010). The four simulation and analysis areas where BIM was

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Practitioners utilizing green simulations and analyses via BIM tended to do much more green building projects in their overall practice than the ones who did not.

most frequently used to achieve green objectives in architectural and engineering companies were energy performance (67%), lighting analysis (60%), HVAC design (52%), and green building certication (48%). Among the energy performance simulations, lighting and daylighting analysis (74%), whole building energy use (72%), and energy code compliance (70%) are most used by the majority of people. Similar results are shown in another study with architecture and construction companies. Among the survey participants, 90% were BIM users and 66% of them were utilizing BIM for sustainability practices (Azhar, 2010). Of those who use BIM for sustainability practices, 77% were doing it during the design/preconstruction stage and only 11% during the postconstruction stage. The most common areas/purposes of the sustainability analyses included energy, daylighting/solar analysis, building orientation, and LEED documentation, which is similar to the previous study discussed. The majority of users conducting sustainability analyses indicated using BIM for sustainability analyses saved time (77%) and also money (77%) compared to the traditional analyses. The most frequently used BIM-based external building performance simulation and analysis tools analyzing BIM data were Autodesk Green Building Studio (GBS) (59%), Autodesk Ecotect (41%), and Integrated Environmental Solutions Virtual Environment (VE) (41%) (Azhar, 2010). In academia, the most frequently used simulation software was Autodesk Ecotect (Haberl, 2008). The most popular BIM software among the BIM users was Autodesk Revit (84.6%), while the other BIM software programs such as Bentleys BIM solutions (13.6%) and Graphisofts ArchiCAD (16.7%) were also used by some (McGraw-Hill Construction, 2009). Another 3D modeling software, SketchUp can be used for basic building performance analyses through the plug-in feature in VE or EnergyPlus in the initial stage of the project, but BIM software is needed for more accurate and advanced building performance analyses during the design stage (Mendler, McCliontock, & Corney, 2008).

Another study found that practitioners utilizing green simulations and analyses via BIM tended to do much more green building projects in their overall practice than the ones who do not (Bernstein et al., 2010). This indicates a close relationship between green building practice and the use of BIM-based green simulations and analyses, which, in turn, points to an increase of technology-based green building practice. It also indicates that the more seriously practitioners engage in green building practice, the more an evidence-based approach based on technology they will need. In fact, this trend highlights the need of the green building industry to conduct the green building practice based on predictability to be able to make better informed decisions in the early stage of the design process according to Rundell (as cited in United States Green Building Council [USGBC], 2010, p. 2). To further accelerate the implementation and practice of green building, the USGBC has partnered with Autodesk to create an industry standard technology platform for green buildings (Fedrizzi, 2006). Most recently there has been an effort to integrate BIM with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) online. Brendan Owens, vice president of LEED Technical Development in USGBC, stressed the importance of integrated team approach to achieving green building projects and the critical role of BIM in successful LEED projects (as cited in USGBC, 2010, p. 2).

BIM and Interior Design


While there is a strong movement to incorporate digital simulations to predict building performance in the AEC industry, this appears to be rarely discussed in interior design practice and education. BIM is not as much implemented yet in interior design practice as in the AEC practice. In a 2010 survey, <14% of architects answered they have not used BIM in design practice, whereas >53% of interior designers said that they have not used BIM in their practice (Floyd & Seidler, 2010). At the same time, there is a growing awareness of the need for BIM in the future for interior design practice. In the same survey,

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In addition to the gap in adopting BIM in interior design practice and education, there also seems to be a gap between the level of awareness and the level of technical applications in green design practice within the interior design community.

85% of practitioners and interior design educators thought that BIM should be covered in interior design education. The wide adoption of BIM in the AEC industry indicates the necessity of a redesign of the interior design pedagogical framework to meet the industry expectations (Henderson & Jordan, 2009). While digital simulations to predict building performance have been incorporated in the curriculum of architectural and engineering disciplines, interior design education has been slow in coping with the current need of practicing green designbased predictable models (Zuo, Leonard, & MaloneBeach, 2010). In addition to the gap in adopting BIM in interior design practice and education, there also seems to be a gap between the level of awareness and the level of technical applications in green design practice within the interior design community. In a survey, interior designers showed a high degree of awareness in the importance of sustainable design and energy but a low degree of actual technical applications regarding sustainable energy (Kang, Kang, & Barnes, 2008). Thus, utilizing BIM technology for green interiors appears to be rarely implemented in interior design practice and education. The gap may come from the traditional interior design realminterior spaceswhich require less extensive information on the relationships to other components of the building, and the impact of exterior-based components on interiors such as orientation of building, neighboring buildings, and solar-heat gain, which are now considered critical issues in achieving sustainable environments (Williams, 2007). As green interior design practice beyond only providing environmentally responsible materials requires the other domains knowledge regarding building systems and building science relevant to interior spaces, interior design practice, and education need to be able to analyze an interior space as a part of a whole system. The fundamental approach to green design requires seeking solutions based on systematic relationships of building components

instead of optimizing each system isolated from other systems. The latter consequently fails to produce green solutions based on the real performance of the building (Williams, 2007). Thus, there is an increasing need for scientic applications and understanding of a building as a system of interrelated parts and its surroundings in the green building movement (Straube, 2006). Furthermore, a more scientic approach is inevitable because measurable greenness and the quantiable amount of energy and resource efciency are critical pieces of information for proving the effectiveness of green projects. This indicates that green building practice is mature enough to incorporate evidencebased design to make informed decisions. However, the interior design community is overlooking this important approach to the evidence-based design utilizing technology for green design practice. Despite the fact that the profession includes sustainable design as a fundamental value (Council for Interior Design Accreditation, 2009). Thus, it is important to educate future interior designers regarding the value and techniques of green simulations and analyses as an advanced level of the evidence-based green design practice.

Process
Four Types of Green Simulations and Analyses
This paper examined ways to incorporate BIM-based simulations and analyses to interior design projects based on the four types of methods found from the literature review. Case studies of each of four methods are provided from an interior design course utilizing building performance simulations and analyses using BIM and BIM-based external programs to achieve green interior environments over 3 years. The course was the Advanced Communication Method course focusing on Autodesk Revit and green design concepts in the Interior Design Program at Michigan State University. The course, offered to the upper division interior design students, used Revit, GBS, and Ecotect to analyze and simulate interior environments to

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generate greener solutions for various commercial projects. The course was structured with a series of class exercises to learn how to use Revit and the other building performance software programs. These lessons were then applied to a project. Six to seven weeks were spent building a virtual model in Revit and another 34 weeks for green simulations and analyses. Students chose their own combination of simulation and analysis options from the four methods for the projects. The complexity of Revit models varied by year, and teams were formed for more complex models. On the basis of the type and the level of technical calculations and simulations, four methods for simulations and analyses for green indoor environment were used: visual analysis, prescriptive analysis, web-based external building performance simulation, and external building performance simulation and visualization. The rst two types are available from the BIM software itself and the other two require the use of BIM-based external software tools such as GBS and Ecotect. The following section describes the strengths and weaknesses of each method based on literature review and the analysis of the data from the course over 3 years. The visual analysis method is not considered as technical analysis, but rather involves visual simulations examining design alternatives. However, it includes various topics relevant to green interior design that are not available from technical simulation software tools. The design alternative comparisons in this method are more related to traditional interior design tasks such as color, lighting, furniture, and space layout. The strength of the visual examination is visually enhanced presentations for the analyses that make it easy for anyone to understand the differences between options without having to study the meaning of numbers as in technical analysis. In addition, it does not need external tools that require further training to use those tools. Although this type of analysis is helpful in certain topics of interior design, there is an intrinsic limitation in reporting technical results. Further simulations and analyses using the

other methods are recommended when more technical information is needed. The prescriptive analysis is a method that involves calculation options in BIM (Bower, 2009). Most of the calculations require manual creations of formulas to examine greener options such as water usage of plumbing xtures, recycled contents of interior materials, and the amount of daylight in interior spaces. This requires further understanding of other terminologies and how to calculate items to obtain the desirable result. For instance, to examine recycled contents of carpets of the project for LEED credits, it is necessary to understand such terms as pre- and postconsumer recycled contents and how to calculate the total recycled content value and the total recycled content rate in addition to understanding how to create formulas in BIM. However, this gives technical analyses beyond visual examinations. The web-based external building performance simulation method provides conceptual building performance simulations and analyses from the whole building perspective for the early design stage. It analyzes data from a BIM model along with the building site information to create assumptions for the energy consumption and possibilities to obtain a certain green building certication (Bower, 2009). GBS is the tool used in this study. It permits a mix-and-match type of tasks for available green options from drop-down menus. It is not dependent on the capacity of hardware of the computer because it is an online application, not a computer application installed to ones desktop. This method can be a good option to examine conceptual energy consumption from the whole building perspective. Interior designers can choose options relevant to interiors to examine various options for greener interior spaces. However, to fully understand the whole building perspective, interior design options should be explored with other disciplinary topics such as in architecture and mechanical engineering. Although it is possible to use the application even with only rudimentary BIM knowledge, additional training is vital to help the interior designer to create a BIM model during the design phase.

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Visual examinations are critical in exploring alternative green design options in interior design projects because most BIM analyses are based on the information of building envelope and systems without considering interior design components.

The external building performance simulation and visualization method uses a more advanced simulation tool that is designed for conceptual building performance studies of green design solutions in the early stage of the project. It is developed especially for designers, so they can better understand the performance of their designed spaces and buildings during the early design stage before decisions are made. Ecotect is the most frequently used tool for this method. It can analyze data from BIM as well as create its own geometry for analysis inside the tool. Although the tool can produce a high level of technical simulations and analyses for interior spaces including lighting and acoustics, it also requires a high level of accuracy and correct information from the BIM model. An expression garbage in, garbage out is frequently used as a caution for unreliable results due to an incorrectly built BIM model in this method (Deodhar, Blomquist, & Dec, 2010). While its capability of visually enhanced presentations for results is an added value of the tool for designers, it is important to think of the meanings of those visuals and design implications. The training for the application, in addition to the BIM training, can also be intensive to create accurate simulations and analysis results. This tool is also dependent on the capacity of the computers hardware conguration, unlike the webbased application. Overall, the advantage of visual and prescriptive methods is that no external applications are needed, which will require additional training. But they have limitations in providing technical results. Meanwhile, the external technical simulation and analysis methods are able to provide technical results of greener options but require training in addition to learning a BIM tool. They also have a higher probability of presenting faulty information when the BIM models are not built correctly, which may not be immediately obvious. The external building performance simulation and visualization method can perform the most advanced simulations, but users might have more difculties in using the tool. When choosing tools for green simulations and analyses, users should select the tools appropriate for the

purpose of the analysis and the level of commitment necessary.

Case Studies
Each method of green simulations and analyses is discussed in the next section with case studies from class projects. Revit was used as a BIM tool, and GBS and Ecotect are used as external building performance simulation and analysis tools.

Visual Analysis
Visual examinations are critical in exploring alternative green design options in interior design projects because most technical analyses using computer applications are based on the information of building envelope and systems without considering interior design components such as furniture placement, window coverings, and interior colors. This is because many of these computer applications are architects tools that focus on the initial building performance analysis before the stage of interior design. However, an accurate building performance analysis will not be possible without considering interior components, which will increase the differences between the analyses based on simulations and the actual building performance after interior components move into the spaces. Thus, it is important to visually examine various green interior design options before determining the best options. Visual analyses for green interiors in BIM are possible by comparing different design options in interior partitions, materials, and colors to increase the amount of daylight in the space and to effectively place interior articial lighting. In addition, the effects of window coverings can be visually examined to control daylight and glare. An example of visual analysis of interior daylight quality with a consideration for furniture and window blinds is shown in Figure 1. It compared the daylight effect before and after the installation of window blinds in the upper part of the exterior curtain walls with the furniture placement. Two design

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The prescriptive analysis is a complementary tool to the visual analysis in BIM that can examine alternative design scenarios involving calculations of quantities in a more technical manner.

Figure 1. Examination of interior daylight with and without window blinds.

Figure 2. Effects of light reectance of paint colors and nishes on interior daylight.

options were created in Revit using the design options function for the comparison. To accurately visualize the daylight effect on the space, the true north of the building location, specic time, and location of the building were set up in Revit. In addition to these comparisons, the effect of interior colors on interior lighting quality can also be visually examined. The colors of interior oors, walls, and ceilings can signicantly affect the lighting need of interior environments. Depending on the light reectance value (LRV) of the interior paint color, the number of necessary lighting xtures can be reduced by 25% in classrooms and also the energy for cooling the heat generated from interior articial lightings (Boecker et al., 2009). In general, light colors and glossy surfaces have a higher LRV than dark and matte surfaces. LRV of interior colors and nishes of oors, walls, and ceilings needs to be well incorporated into the design solutions when

dealing with interior spaces where daylight and energy efcient lighting are critical issues. A visual examination of paint colors and nishes in an interior space is shown in Figure 2. In this examination, a dark blue paint and a light blue paint colors with matte nish were applied to the interior walls at 11:00 a.m. on March 15, 2010. The room was located in the middle of the north side of the building, and the direction of the perspective view was created looking toward the east side of the building.

Prescriptive Analysis
The prescriptive analysis is a complementary tool to the visual analysis in BIM that can examine alternative design scenarios involving calculations of quantities in a more technical manner. While the visual analysis is typically presented in a 3D space, the prescriptive analysis is presented in a table. The prescriptive analysis is useful for comparisons

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In addition to the analyses directly available in BIM, technical simulations and analyses of building performance are available from external BIM-based software tools.

Figure 3. Total recycled content value calculation.


Floor Schedule Cost Total Cost

Type

Material Name

Area

Comments

Postconsumer Preconsumer Recycled Recycled Content Content 15 53 77 15 61 25 15 40

Total Recycled Content Value 7545 3997 29297 1627 Total 42444

Coffee Bar Offices Lounge Area Lounge Area 2

Ceramic Tile-12 Carpet (2) Carpet (1) Carpet (3)

1376 SF 932 SF 4336 SF 616 SF

12.05 6.55 7.99 7.55

16582 6102 34645 4649

Local Material Local Material

between quantities, such as green materials and water usage of plumbing xtures. This type of data analysis is also useful in determining if the project can achieve the points of certain credits for the LEED certication. For this type of analysis, such functions as Schedule/Quantities and Material Takeoff can be used in Revit. Figure 3 shows an examination of the recycled contents for oor nish materials and the total recycled content value for the recycle content credits in the Material and Resources category of the LEED-Commercial Interiors (CI). In the LEED-CI version 3.0, two points are available for the material recycled contents in Credit 4 Recycled Content (USGBC, 2009). For this analysis, the Schedule/Quantities option in Revit was used. New parameters for postconsumer recycled content and preconsumer recycled content were created and added to the oor properties because these were not available by default. And the formula for total recycled content value was created to calculate the dollar amount for the amount of recycled content percentage combining postconsumer recycled content percentage and half of preconsumer recycled content percentage of each oor material. Although this type of analysis can be done using other software, the advantage of doing it in BIM is that the data is automatically updated whenever the material options change during the design process. This reduces repeated tasks and the time consumption

for redundant calculations because all of the data is part of the digital building model in BIM.

Web-Based External Building Performance Simulation


In addition to the analyses directly available in BIM, technical simulations and analyses of building performance are available from external BIM-based software tools. While there are features useful to only architects, interior designers can also take advantage of these tools. GBS is a web-based application that analyzes gbXML data from BIM along with the location information. Its basic function is to analyze multiple design alternatives. Available building performance analyses relevant to interior spaces in GBS include whole building energy analysis, carbon-emission estimates, water use, and cost estimates, Energy Star scoring, LEED daylight credit potential, natural ventilation, and thermal performance. Depending on the objectives of a project, various combinations of these options can be examined. Figure 4 shows a students analysis on alternative green design options in water usage and cost as well as lighting efciency and control for a renovation of a hospitality project. On the basis of the information on the location, size, and purpose of the building, gbXML data of the Revit model were analyzed to calculate general assumptions regarding these options

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Figure 4. Analyses of alternative design options in GBS.


Water Usage & Cost Run Indoor Water Factors Unit Water Prices $66,850/yr Number of People 851 Water: 2.6$/kgal $66,782/yr (Typical people for this building type/size: 927) Sewer: 3.48$/kgal $68/yr Percent of Time Occupied $66,850/yr (a) Base Run for Water Usage and Cost Building Summary Efficiency Savings Male Female Employee Efficiency Percent of Gallons Annual Cost Only Indoor Usage per Year Savings ($) 3 6 0 Lowe-Flow 8.7 1,124,147 6,835 5 0 Waterless 4.3 556,442 3,383 5 5 0 Hands-Free 1.4 183,883 1,118 0 0 Standard 0 0 0 Standard 0 0 0 Efficient Standard 0.1 0 10,944 0 1,875,416 67 0 $11,403

Total Indoor Outdoor Net Utility

Water Usage & Costs 11,009,946 gal/yr 10,983, 846 gal/yr 26,100 gal/yr 11,009,946 gal/yr

Total Toilets Urinals Sinks Showers Clothes Washers Dishwashers Cooling Towers 9 5 10 0 0 5 0

Total Efficiency Savings: 14.6% (b) Alternative Design Run for Water Usage and Cost Energy and Cost of Lighting Estimated Energy & Cost Summary Annual Energy Cost $181,810 Lifecycle Cost $2,476,253 Annual CO2 Emissions Electric 400.9 tons Onsite Fuel 744.1 tons Large SUV Equivalent 104.1 Large SUVs Annual Energy Electric 489,065 kWh Fuel 128,293 Therms

Annual Electric End Use Chart


Light, 34.90

HVAC, 51.70 Other, 13.40

(c) Base Run for Energy and Cost of Lighting Estimated Energy & Cost Summary Annual Electric End Use Chart Annual Energy Cost $179, 929 Light, Lifecycle Cost $2,450,639 29.80 Annual CO2 Emissions Electric 362.7 tons Onsite Fuel 754.3 tons HVAC, Large SUV Equivalent 101.5 Large SUVs 55.60 Annual Energy Other, Electric 449,812 kWh 14.60 Fuel 130,045 Therms Annual Peak Electric Demand 206.8 kW Lifecycle Energy Electric 13,494,372 kWh Fuel 3,901,344 Therms (d) Alternative Design Run of Energy and Cost of Lighting

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Ecotect is an advanced building performance analysis program that runs more accurate technical simulations.

in GBS. Then, the analyses of the alternative design options were compared to the results of the base run of the current condition. The (a) and (b) sections compare the analysis between the base run and the alternative design run that incorporated low-ow toilets, waterless urinals, and hand-free sinks. The total gallons of water saved per year by choosing these options in the alternative design run was 1,875.415 and the annual cost saving was $11,403. The (c) and (d) sections show an examination of lighting efciency and control between the current condition and the alternative design that incorporated 10% light power density (LPD) reduction and installation of occupancy/daylighting sensors and controls. The result showed a cost saving of $1881 in the annual energy costs. In addition, the annual electric end use of the lights was reduced to 29.8% from 34.9%. The light power reduction option was examined in coordination with the design strategy of maximizing interior daylight as it was important that energy saving design options should not sacrice comfort and performance of occupants.

External Building Performance Simulation and Visualization


Ecotect is an advanced building performance analysis program that runs more accurate technical simulations. It also has a capability of producing visually enhanced analyses in addition to tables and charts. Thus, its basic function is to both visualize and simulate design performance. Available building performance analyses relevant to interior spaces include solar radiation, shadows and reections, shading design, natural ventilation, thermal performance, and acoustic analysis. Some simulations and analyses contribute to achieving more direct interior design solutions, whereas the others provide basic information to help interior designers understand the whole aspects of the building performance before creating interior solutions to coordinate green objectives with other disciplines. For instance, in a daylight study of a university campus building, a student learned from the sun path analysis in Ecotect that the north side of the

building received almost no direct daylight because of the large overhanging roof. For this analysis, weather data for Lansing, Michigan, was imported to Ecotect from the U.S. Department of Energy website to accurately simulate and calculate the performance. The (a) and (b) images in Figure 5 display the sun path of the building between on April 1 at 2:00 p.m. and December 1 at 2:00 p.m, respectively. The images from (c) to (f) are the screenshots of the sections cutting through the building, which show daylight available in interiors between the south and the north sides of the building at various times: April 1 at 2:00 p.m. on south (c), December 1 at 2:00 p.m. on south (d), April 1 at 2:00 p.m. on north (e), and December 1 at 2:00 p.m. on north (f). The comparisons of sun and shadow effects from these images provided information about the varying degrees of shadow in relation to the directions of the building throughout a year. This type of information is critical because understanding the amount of daylight penetration in interiors helps interior designers determine a better layout of space and furniture placement as well as other technical solutions to maximize daylight penetration. Daylighting analyses can be further conducted to ascertain more accurate information on the effects of daylight on the interiors of the building. Understanding the amount of available daylight also helps interior designers to determine the appropriate amount of articial lighting, which can contribute to lower energy costs and internal heat gains (Fisher, 2009). Figure 6 shows the daylight levels on the rst oor of the building. These were determined by calculating lighting levels related to daylight factor. This examination clearly demonstrated that the perimeter of the building received all the natural light, whereas the central core received little to no light. This information can be useful when proposing welldaylit interior spaces for buildings where daylight is critical, such as classrooms and ofces. Such information can be a basis for further analyses for possible design implications in Ecotect. An example of a further analysis might be a simulation after applying

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Figure 5. Sun and shadow study.

insulated gray low-emissivity (low-e) reected glazing to the windows in Ecotect. As this glazing type allows solar radiation to pass through rooms and reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer, it may contribute to a substantial difference regarding thermal comfort and daylight penetration for more comfortable and productive classrooms. Another potential of this tool is the ability to predict future use of energy by changing individual weather data parameters such as temperature variants due to global climate change. This can enable interior designers to provide interior environments that can be easily adaptable to the changing energy needs based on future climate change.

Analysis of Student Experience


The data and analysis regarding student experience with green simulations and analyses in this section of the paper are based on an informal interviews, essays, and observations from 20 interior design students who took the Advanced Communication Method course in Spring 2010. Students were allowed to choose the topics and options to investigate for greener indoor environment for their projects using Revit, GBS, and Ecotect. Various commercial projects were used including a restaurant, ofce, and educational facility. Small commercial projects or residential projects were not used because Revit is not frequently used for these projects due to a low

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Figure 6. Daylight levels on the rst oor.

Figure 7. Use of the four methods.

return on investment. Basic functions of how to use these tools were taught in class. Students were to further collect information and develop green design strategies before determining what options and tools to use. This was to examine their preferences and difculties in using the software tools. The majority of students favored the visual analysis followed by the web-based external building simulation method. Only 10% of the students used the method of external building performance simulation and visualization. The result is attributed to the level of difculty of specic tasks and the knowledge required in these tools for certain green design strategies. For instance, doing a sun and shadow study or creating an alternative design option in Revit involves fewer steps and less knowledge to conduct the tasks than creating formulas in Revit to nd whether the design qualies for LEED daylight credits. Figure 7 presents the percentages of the usage between the four methods. Among the visual analysis options available in Revit, the majority of the students explored the sun and shadow study (100%), followed by the amount of glazing option (55%) to examine indoor daylight. Some students also examined the interior articial lighting between conventional lights and energy efcient lights (45%). Most of the students who explored the amount of glazing for indoor daylight increased or decreased the amount of the exterior

windows while only one student explored the amount of glazing in interior walls. This was because the visual effects were more obvious when changing the amount of glazing in the exterior walls than interior walls. All the students who used the prescriptive analysis in Revit examined the space calculation feature. However, no advanced tasks were observed because technical calculations and the creation of formulas for those calculations in Revit require a higher level of application of the software as well as an understanding of the technical aspects of green design strategies. For instance, the LEED daylight credit analysis requires knowing what the LEED daylight credits are and how to calculate the equations before creating formulas in Revit. The web-based external analysis was the second most frequently used method. Among the options relevant to interiors in GBS, the majority of students chose to look at the effects of interior lighting (80%) followed by the glazing effect (50%). For the effects of interior lighting, such options as occupancy/daylighting sensors and control and lower LPD were examined. And for the glazing effect, low-e glass and the glazing amount were examined. Only 15% of the students examined the water usage and cost options available in GBS. This seemed to be related to the purpose and size of

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The examination of learning experiences with students revealed their understanding of the benets of learning and implementing green simulations and analyses.

Figure 8. Green interior options examined in each method.


100 80 60 40 20 0
Daylight Interior Lighting Interior Lighting Space Calculation Interior Lighting Glazing Water Usage & Cost Sun Path Thermal Comfort Sun & Shadow Glazing 55 45 35 15 10 10 4 10 50 100 80

visual analysis method is easier and less involved than the other methods in terms of manual calculation tasks and the level of technical knowledge for green design strategies. The green analyses through the web-based external application also were easily achievable once Revit models are built. The webbased external building performance simulation method requires less understanding of how to use the application than the other methods. Thus, these two methods can be easily incorporated into interior design projects to meet green objectives. Table 1 summarizes the difference between four methods. The prescriptive analysis for green interior options in Revit is more difcult than the visual analysis and the web-based external simulation methods but less difcult than the external simulation and visualization method. This can be attributed to the need for advanced knowledge of technical calculations and formula creations in Revit. Advanced and specic instructions are needed for a better utilization of this method, not to mention that the maturity and interest of students in such technical calculations can be limited. According to the ndings, the external simulation and visualization method is the most complicated and difcult except for a couple of the basic analyses such as weather and sun path, which may not be particularly helpful in determining direct green design options for indoor environment. While this tool offers great potential and advanced analyses, it is not easy for students to grasp the advanced tasks that require additional training. This method may not be easily incorporated to interior design projects without a considerable amount of time spent to acquire the needed expertise to use the tool. According to the essays obtained from 15 students, 100% of the students thought that learning BIM and possible green interior simulations and analyses was overall a positive experience. Only two students expressed concerns with BIM. Those concerns included learning curves, potential increase of design fees, training issues, and no industry standard about how BIM projects were managed. The majority of the students (86%) especially mentioned that being able to estimate the effects of green options was benecial

Visual Analysis Prescriptive Analysis Web-based External Analysis External Simulation & Visualization

the students projects. Many were a small single oor building, which did not have a signicant amount of plumbing xtures. Nevertheless, among the water usage and cost options, low-ow toilet, handsfree faucet xtures, waterless urinals, and efcient dishwashers were examined to see the differences in the total water usage and the cost per year. The external simulation and visualization method was used by the fewest number of students (10%). This was due to the difculties of using an advanced simulation software tool that required a correctly built model from Revit as well as an in-depth understanding of the functions of the software for advanced analyses. In fact, students simulations in Ecotect generated a warning message regarding incorrect Revit models several times and had to be adjusted accordingly. Among the options in Ecotect, such analyses as sun path, daylight, interior lighting, and thermal comfort were examined. Specic green interior options examined in each method are presented in Figure 8. Overall, the results show that the visual analysis can be easily achieved in interior design projects. The

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The visual analysis method is easier and less involved than the other methods in terms of manual calculation tasks and the level of technical knowledge for green design strategies.

Table 1.

Difference between four methods

Visual analysis
Method involved Visual examination of differences between options Lowest Lowest No 3D visual images

Prescriptive analysis
Calculations and formulas for quantity comparison between options Higher Lower No Tables

Web-based external building performance simulation


Web application with automatic analysis between options Lower Higher Yes Tables and graphs

External building performance simulation and visualization


Desktop installed computer application with enhanced visual images Highest Highest Yes 3D visual images, tables, and graphs

Complexity level Technical analysis level Additional software training Result format

in determining green design solutions. In addition, 46.7% of the students anticipated that designers would benet from the use of BIM and that BIM would be widely adopted in the near future.

green simulations and analyses into interior design projects to achieve green objectives by using a BIM software tool in conjunction with external building performance applications. The examination of learning experiences with students revealed their understanding of the benets of learning and implementing green simulations and analyses. The possible benets include evidencebased interior design, easier convincing of clients, and a holistic understanding of indoor environment. By using these tools for green simulations and analyses, it is easier to make informed decisions based on the quantied data. This allows interior designers to conduct green design practice based on evidence. It is also easier to educate and persuade clients regarding the effectiveness of proposed green design solutions with the evidence found from these simulations and analyses. Another benet is the ability to understand the interrelationships between various building components around interior spaces, which is critical to an integrated approach to sustainable design. Because an integrated approach to sustainable design is expected, understanding the interrelationships between site, building envelop, building systems, and interior components will increase interior designers capability in coordinating green objectives when developing interior design options with other professions in the AEC industry.

Discussions and Conclusion


As the green design movement matures, it becomes increasingly important to seek evidence of the effectiveness of green design from the physical performance of a building or space when proposing green design options. Consequently, the use of BIMbased simulations and analyses is becoming important in green design practice. The analyses from such tools can help designers understand how their designs will perform especially when the effects of particular design choices go against the designers intuition (Villella, 2010). This paper explored BIM-based simulations and analyses for the advancement of evidence-based green interior design with four types of methods available for interior design projects. It also investigated student-learning experiences with green simulations and analyses using Revit, GBS, and Ecotect. The purpose of the investigation was to discuss the leading trends of the technological approach to green design as well as to provide a framework for integrating

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By using these tools for green simulations and analyses, it is easier to make informed decisions based on the quantied data. This allows interior designers to conduct green design practice based on evidence.

In addition to these benets, another is an expanded service of interior design. This technology will enable interior designers to provide services that are traditionally available from only engineers and consultants. As more simulation tools are developed, interior designers will be able to provide a highquality conceptual performance of their designs based on simulations to their clients. Thus, educating interior design students about the use of BIM-based simulations and analyses for green interior design is a necessary part of interior design pedagogy. It has the potential to provide an advanced way of practicing evidence-based green design as well as to produce competent future interior designers who can expand the role of interior designers in the AEC industry. While these positive benets exist, several concerns are also present. These concerns include addressing a balance between technical green design solutions and holistic solutions to the overall design of the space, availability of training opportunities and resources, and advanced knowledge of technical aspects of green design relevant to interior spaces. Emphasizing only certain aspects of green design solutions can sacrice the other aspects of functions and purposes of the interior spaces. For instance, there is a great emphasis on daylight but very little about acoustics in the current green design practice. Increasing interior glass partitions can contribute to the penetration of daylight to interiors but using too many hard materials can cause acoustical problems (Muehleisen, 2010). Thus, a balance between various functions should be addressed. Another concern is a lack of training opportunities and resources necessary to incorporate such technical solutions to interior design projects. Lastly, the advanced knowledge on green solutions required in addition to the knowledge on how to use these tools poses a challenge. Limitations on the knowledge of green design will result in limitations on further facilitating comparisons of design options for better solutions. Pedagogical challenges also surround the incorporation of BIM-based green simulations and analyses. Knowledgeable faculty is critical to teach a balanced

approach between technical and holistic green design solutions. Faculty commitment to training requiring substantial time and efforts to learn new technologies can also be a hindrance. Lacking resources is an additional challenge. However, one should note that all these challenges may always occur in the process of all technological evolutions. As noted in a students essay in this study, it takes time before professionals realize the full value of the software and switch to a new technology with any technology as it was the case of 2D computer drafting. In conclusion, BIM is changing not only the design process but also green design practice. To address the professional values of the interior design profession in sustainable design and multidisciplinary collaborations, it is important to build the ability of interior designers to play a signicant role in the technology-enhanced green design practice. When interior designers are technologically competent, they will be able to participate in green building projects as part of the integrated teams from the early stage of the design process and contribute to creating sustainable environments.

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Received February 11, 2011; revised May 24, 2011; accepted August 25, 2011

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