Technical newsletters about emerging issues & our latest research

As heightening legislative pressures demand significant improvements to building performance standards, we face growing challenges when attempting to design low energy buildings within escalating design and budget constraints. Designers are therefore faced with the task of striking a balance between competing objectives.

Richard Hodkinson Consultancy is currently undertaking research to test a method for establishing the optimal façade design of a case study dwelling that meets the best trade-off between heating, cooling and lighting energy demands. The optimisation study includes several thousand possible design solutions. Ultimately we aim to establish the success of optimisation tools in providing key early-stage design advice.

In an attempt to bridge the gap between the use of optimisation tools in academic and industry applications, researchers are beginning to team up with thermal modelling software developers, such as DesignBuilder, to advance the development of commercial programmes with robust optimisation capabilities.

The introduction of simulation techniques using evolutionary algorithms (based on the Darwinian concept of evolution to improve a population of building design solutions) allows architects and designers to model exceedingly large numbers of possible scenarios very quickly. Results can support informed design decisions regarding the most optimal design for CO2 emissions, thermal comfort and construction cost. Furthermore, optimisation has the potential to identify the most desirable solutions (e.g. combinations of u-values, g-value and light transmittance values for glazing systems) and subsequently drive the development of new products onto the market.