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 Nemetschek Group
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

Plan, Build, and Operate More Efficiently and Sustainably with Software Solutions from the Nemetschek Group

July 13th, 2022 by Sanjay Gangal

Two megatrends are dominating the current discussion and both present major challenges and opportunities. Alongside digitalization, sustainability is right in the spotlight. Climate targets, circular economy, CO2 pricing, the use of the latest methods and processes – there are countless initiatives and measures across the construction industry to curb climate change and its consequences. Every single one of them is facing challenges. The good news is that significant improvements can be achieved with proven digital solutions. Across the entire life cycle, a building can be planned, built, and managed much more efficiently and thus more sustainably – cost savings included. The following cases demonstrate that sustainability and efficiency go hand in hand – when relying on the right software tools, such as the solutions from the Nemetschek Group

Sustainability Par Excellence; Sustainability via BIM

Germany’s most sustainable building to date is known as the “polar bear building” and is the headquarters of the design company BANKWITZ. It has already received several awards from the German Sustainable Building Council (DBGN). The building comprises three components, which were designed based on the passive house standard using Allplan, a Nemetschek Group solution. One of the components does not even require its own heating system and is therefore considered climate-positive purely from a structural perspective. Moreover, the building was planned entirely using BIM. The reinforced concrete/timber hybrid construction places a rigorous focus on sustainability: resource-efficient concrete was used where possible. Timber frame construction made from prefabricated wooden elements with cellulose insulation forms the external walls. The facade of untreated, rough-sawn timber can be dismantled and recycled without affecting the supporting structure. In addition, all the building technology is controlled by software.

Covering Energy Needs Internally – Through Impressive Architecture

The world’s first net-zero restaurant from McDonald’s in Florida serves not only as a fast-food restaurant, but also as a learning center for testing and developing sustainable approaches for the group’s restaurants. When the building of around 8,000m² was renovated, solar collectors, mobile wall units, natural shading, solar lighting, innovative heat reduction technologies, and a unique steel structure were used to create a sustainable building. The McDonald’s branch generates enough renewable energy to achieve a balance between the quantity of emissions produced and removed from the atmosphere – in other words, it is “climate neutral.”

The architecture of the building is also impressive, with a unique 18,000m² butterfly roof, with its 10-meter cantilever and mountings for over 1,000 solar panels. Due to wind sensitivity, the structure of the roof had to be anchored deep into the ground. The main pillars of the Drive Thru, which support the highest end of the roof, also had to be two-thirds filled with concrete. Using software from RISA made it possible to plan the quantities precisely and thus sustainably.

A Passive House with a Sophisticated Structure

The passive house “De Zonnegroet” – or “The Sun Salutation” – was built primarily from hemp lime. In addition, other ecological materials were used in this project in the Netherlands. The highly clayey subsoil on the site in Zeewolde presented a particular challenge for this project. Accordingly, a special slab foundation was chosen: a continuous reinforced concrete slab with edge beams on an insulating and load-bearing layer of foamed concrete. This approach means that the ground pressure is very low, and the likelihood of settlements has been greatly reduced. The building itself is 95% wood construction – roof slabs, floor slabs, walls, facades, beams, and columns are all part of the structure – which was supplemented by a steel beam on the first floor living room area.

For the structural design, the construction office worked with SCIA Engineer, also part of the Nemetschek Group. It was then possible to create the entire building model and design most of the structural components of the complex building very easily. Because several variants were calculated without much effort, the design could be adapted as needed during the construction process. The software also served as a communication tool within the planning team and ensured that both technicians and customers were always up to date.

Prefabricated Construction Methods – More Efficiency, Less Waste

Vienna is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. To meet the rising demand for affordable housing, a new district is being developed in the east of the city: aspern Seestadt. A large proportion of the buildings are being built using prefabricated construction methods. This involves manufacturing the elements off-site before transporting them to the construction site and combining them with other building components. This prefabrication method increases quality, reliability, and safety. It also raises productivity on the construction site and significantly reduces the amount of construction waste through more precise planning and optimizing materials. In addition, waste can be reduced by 90% and is recycled directly at the factory. The origin of materials also plays a major role: the distance between the construction site and the production sites of some building materials is under 100km. One of the first projects constructed in aspern Seestadt is the award-winning “town house D10”. The building complies with a low-energy standard and has a particular focus on resource efficiency. Working with software-based planning tools is a basic prerequisite for this. Planbar from ALLPLAN is one of the tools used by the planners.

More AI – Less Energy Consumption

Woodie’s, the market leader for DIY and construction market products with 35 branches in Ireland, uses a combination of energy management solutions and ongoing energy optimization techniques to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Woodie’s has already decreased CO2 by 14% in the first year by using the DEXMA platform from Spacewell and monitoring energy consumption on a half-hourly basis. Woodie’s is supported by Energy & Technical Services (ETS), a European energy management and building technology provider. ETS follows a data-driven approach that uses real-time energy consumption data to generate sustained energy and CO2 savings. The map function of the DEXMA platform provides a geographical view of each branch and a color-coded benchmark. Each branch, from the lowest to the highest energy consumption, is categorized using various criteria. This function shows the user briefly which branches in the entire portfolio are performing best or worst.

More Digitalization – and More Sustainability

These use cases demonstrate how the use of the right software tools can accelerate sustainability in construction without forgetting about efficiency. By relying on digital solutions, the management of a structure can be optimized and better, fact-based decisions can be made. Another advantage of digital tools is that even years later it is possible to see which material was used where – this is the only way to reuse raw materials. The two challenges of digitalization and sustainability thus go hand in hand – with the construction industry as a good example of much untapped potential

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