Rethinking Building Design: The Crucial Role of Performance Modelling

May 28, 2024

As investors, developers and tenants now demand better performance from buildings, consulting building services engineers are championing a paradigm shift in how buildings are conceived, designed, and realised.

Central to our approach is the building performance model—a holistic framework that informs and enhances every aspect of the design process, from building form and material selection to mechanical and electrical systems, power and data infrastructure.

The Current State: A Misalignment in Design Priorities

Traditionally, the building design process often unfolds with an aesthetic vision leading the way, followed by efforts to retrofit engineering solutions around this vision. This sequential approach can result in missed opportunities for optimising building performance, energy efficiency, and occupant comfort. More critically, it can lead to compromises that impact the sustainability and operational costs of the building over its lifetime.

The Metec Method: Performance Modelling at the Forefront

Metec mechanical and electrical engineers operate in the same open plan office as the sustainability engineers. This has resulted in a reimagined process where the building performance model is not an afterthought but the starting point. This model is a comprehensive evaluation that considers building form, solar and shading performance, fabric and thermal behaviour, daylight optimisation, glazing ratio and specifications, natural ventilation opportunities, thermal comfort, performance targets, and HVAC technologies.

South County Campus - One & Two South County, Dublin

South County Campus - One & Two South County

Metec have provided Building Performance Modelling on all phases of the South County Business Park development in Leopardstown.

Irish Life HQ, Dublin

Irish Life HQ

The main success for Metec was the way the MEP was meticulously designed by our BIM & Engineering teams to demonstrate how the systems are coordinated to satisfy the HQ requirements within the restrictive existing building.

On another major Dublin-based development, Building Performance Modelling began at the project's inception and guided the building's form, solar optimisation, and daylight strategies. This modelling continued throughout the construction process, enhancing decision-making around optioneering and providing insights into energy consumption and thermal comfort. Post-occupancy, the model will continue to be used as a validation tool to compare real-world data to the model’s predicted energy consumption. This will help bridge the performance gap and ensure the buildings are operated as designed. 

Collaborative Synergy: Engineers and Architects in Concert

The key to unlocking the full potential of the building performance model lies in early and continuous collaboration between the developer, architects, consulting engineers and design team. By integrating our engineering expertise from the outset, we ensure that the architectural vision is realised without compromising on performance, efficiency, or occupant comfort. This partnership allows for a more informed design process, where engineering solutions enhance rather than constrain the architectural intent.

The Benefits: Beyond Energy Efficiency

Starting with a building performance model yields benefits that extend far beyond energy savings:

  • Enhanced Comfort and Well-being: By prioritising thermal comfort and optimising natural light, we create environments that promote occupant well-being and productivity.
  • Sustainability: Our approach aligns with global sustainability goals, reducing the carbon footprint of buildings through smart design and technology integration.
  • Cost Efficiency: Early modelling identifies opportunities for cost savings throughout the building's life cycle, from construction to operation.
  • Innovation: The synergy between architectural vision and engineering expertise fosters innovation, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in sustainable building design.

Reshaping the Way you Think about Building Performance

As thought leaders in consulting building services engineering, Metec is committed to advancing the role of performance modelling in building design. Our projects stand as testaments to the power of integrating engineering excellence with architectural creativity from the ground up.

We believe that by repositioning the building performance model at the heart of the design process, we can not only redefine the skyline but also contribute to a more sustainable, efficient, and comfortable world.

In the pursuit of excellence in building design, the Metec approach is not merely a methodology but a vision for the future. It's a call to action for architects and engineers alike to embrace a new paradigm—one where performance and aesthetics are not at odds but are seamlessly integrated to create buildings that are as sustainable as they are breathtaking. Join us in redefining the future of building design, where every structure begins with a model of performance that sets a new standard for the industry.

Meet our author Scott Caldwell, Associate Director, Head of Sustainability HERE.

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