Virtual Design Analysis Group is a division of NVentum, LLC.

This unique collaborative endeavor; to utilize the latest reality capture technology to document the artifacts, buildings and campus of History San Jose, provides opportunities for private sector, non-profits and institutions of higher education to work together to solve some of today's most pressing engineering issues. The protocol for retrofitting as-built historic facilities and the use of new technologies to preserve our most prized historic treasures are vital to the continued success and expanded influence of our museums.
This blog will document the challenges and successes of this ambitious, one of a kind project.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Evolution Of Capital Facilities

Much of the innovative automotive technology we've witnessed over the past 40 years has been inspired by concerns for the comfort and safety for owner/operators, environmental legislation, advances in energy conservation, and the desire for enhanced performance. The same innovations witnessed in the automotive industry, driven by the same need for comfort and safety, energy conservation and enhanced performance capabilities are the inspiration behind the evolution of today's capital facilities.
My First Car
1968 Mustang
I was sixteen years old when my parents agreed to help me buy my first car. It was a 1968 Ford Mustang with a 289 V8 engine and and automatic transmission. At the time,  I did my own maintenance out of necessity. Back then, automobiles were fairly simple; basically an engine and drive train were all you had to maintain. You maintain the fluids levels, check your points and change plugs and you were good to go. If your car didn't start, you make sure you had gas. If you had gas, then you had to make sure you had spark. If you had spark and gas, then you "listen" to the car: does it sound like it wants to turn over but can't? Does it sound like you battery is too weak to crank the motor? That was how you diagnosed car problems in the early seventies. If you took your car to the shop, their process for diagnosing car problems was not much different. Concerns about the care and upkeep throughout the "life" of the vehicles were unheard of or secondary at best. Automobiles were originally designed with the idea in mind that owners would eventually want to replace their vehicle with  new, more modern models. The idea of an automobile owner purchasing a vehicle and keeping it for life was not part of the industry's business plan.

Carbon Emissions and the Environment
Catalytic Converter
In the late 1960's and early 70's when environmental issues were really taking root in our communities and concerns about  gasoline and fossil fuels were becoming more prevalent, people started to push for stricter environmental laws and regulations. In California, concerns over smog and air pollution led to some of the strictest environmental laws in the country. Strict new regulations regarding automobile emissions were implemented to limit the amount of pollutants in our atmosphere. Smog test and catalytic converters became a way of life, and business, in California.
CO2/Volatile Organic
Compound Sensor-
In reality, carbon emissions from automobiles are not the major culprit in the air quality, pollutant and global warming issues that we initially thought. The fact is, the majority of carbon emissions do not come from transportation sources, the pollutants come from buildings. We do everything in buildings; people eat, sleep, work and congregate in buildings. In the United States, buildings account for 38% of carbon emissions, more transportation or industry. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 48% of carbon emissions world wide.
In response to the problems associated with carbon emissions in the capital facilities industries, many municipalities are adopting sustainable, green building policies. These new policies require owners,  architects, designers and general contractors to adhere to sustainable environmental practices when designing and building new facilities. These new green standards are a step in the right directions however the vast majority of the problems rest in existing facilities. There are many more existing building than there are new buildings under construction. In order to have a truly positive impact on the environment and carbon emissions, we must address the problems associated with energy retrofitting of existing facilities.
Tesla Motors
The Evolution Of The Automobile
Today's automobiles have more computers, actuators and sensors than the original Apollo Space Craft.  For me, the days of looking under the hood of my car to diagnose a problem are long gone. Modern automobiles store information about the vehicle, it's maintenance schedule and performance within the on board computer systems. There's no need for you to keep paper records about your vehicle's history any longer. When you take your vehicle to a "service technician", the technician plugs in a laptop computer and the vehicles maintenance records are right at his/her fingertips. Not only are the records accessible, the automobile's computer systems will explain what the current maintenance issues/and or problems are so the technicians don't waste time with long costly diagnostic procedures. Computer systems on today's automobiles monitor everything from electrical and fuel systems to road conditions. This data is processed and used to make adjustments to the vehicles operating systems to help maximize the vehicles performance while limiting fuel consumption and reducing carbon emissions. 

The Evolution Of Capital Facilities
San Jose City Hall 1948
Carbon dioxide emissions in our atmosphere and the emissions of other GHG's (Green House Gases), are often associated with the burning of fossil fuels like natural gas, crude oil and coal. Though carbon emissions from the transportation industry were the early focus of many environmental groups, the research conducted over the past three decades have led to a better understanding of the impact of buildings on the environment and to the creation of new legislation regarding the design and construction of sustainable, green buildings.

San Jose City Hall 1975
 Much like the changes witnessed in the automobile industry over the past thirty years, the design, construction and operation of today's buildings are driven by the same forces at play; comfort and safety of the building's occupants, energy conservation and enhanced performance. 
San Jose City Hall 2008
An added incentive for the evolution of capital facilities is the financial benefits realized through the reduction and proper management of energy resourcesAccording to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S. A recent report conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology said, "approximately 84% of the life cycle energy use of a building is associated with operating the building rather than the materials and energy used in construction. Building systems almost never achieve their design efficiencies at any time during the operation and their performance typically degrade over time". Understanding how your building distributes and consumes energy is key to finding ways to reduce cost. 
Building Management System
Johnson Controls
Additional cost savings will result from the health and increased productivity of the building's occupants. Studies show that Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has a tremendous impact on the productivity of the American workforce. According to an August 2000 report from the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the estimated potential savings and productivity gains in the U.S. alone are $6 Billion to $14 Billion from reduced respiratory disease, 2 to $4 Billion from reduced allergies and 20 to $160 Billion from direct improvement to worker performance related to health.

Today's Smart Buildings
Smart  buildings provide the most cost effective approach to the design and implementation of building systems. Traditionally, buildings are constructed by designing, installing and operating each system independently. A smart building integrates the design and installation of all building systems. This process reduces the inefficiencies in the design and construction process, saving time and money.

What does this mean for the building's owners and operators? A building that monitors the "health" of its own systems means less costly repairs and down time due to unforeseen mechanical problems. It gives the owner/operator the ability to conduct long-range planning and scheduling of preventive maintenance which minimizes disruptions to daily operations. There is the elimination of long, costly diagnostic procedures when problems do arise. The building's iinteractive capabilities means faster response to the needs of occupants/tenants. Modern actuators and sensors provide real-time information about a building's performance allowing for real-time energy audits and simulations. The overall result is a major reduction in operating cost and the positive environmental impact of  reducing the carbon footprint of the facility through energy conservation and proper resource management.

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