Climate-smart houses based on Archicad model

What environmental impact does a house have? A question that the architect gradually answers with the help of the Archicad model and the calculation program Anavitor during the design process. Jan-Anders Jönsson at Informationsbyggarna presents the technology that makes houses climate smart.

Understanding the overall environmental impact of a building's life cycle is increasingly important. A holistic approach that includes all stages, from construction to use and maintenance until the building is finally demolished and the masses removed. An approach that also includes raw materials, manufacturing processes, waste, transport and energy consumption. An urgent and highly topical subject where new legal requirements most likely will be brought forward in the future.

"At the moment, Boverket (Swedish National Board of Housing) is preparing new requirements in Swedish legislation for a climate declaration to be submitted in connection with the building permit in order to obtain final approval from authorities. These new demands will affect all construction work." says Jan-Anders Jönsson, senior consultant at Informationsbyggarna working with environmental calculations.

He is an IT entrepreneur who early on realized the importance of analyzing and understanding life cycles. Therefore, Jan-Anders started developing the environmental calculation program Anavitor, a unique Swedish software for life cycle analysis (LCA) and its associated costs, in 2006 together with the Swedish Environmental Institute, IVL.

The BIM model - a basis for environmental calculations

An important basis for these calculations is the BIM model in Archicad. "Starting with the model, we add environmental data, which provides results used for a declaration that is attached to the As-built document, much like an energy declaration.”

Here's how it's done. Using Archicad, the architect adds information about properties of different materials in each building part. Information that is then used in Anavitor's calculations. But first, however, all building parts must be classified and harmonised in Archicad's model. Take an interior wall, for example. It is classified based on the material included in each part, for example wooden studs, insulation materials and plasterboard with different dimensions. This summary of the wall becomes a recipe, a general description of the constituent parts.

When the architect analyses the environmental impact, the data of the different quantities from the Model in Archicad is exported in an IFC file and imported into Anavitor which, in turn, performs the calculation. The architect thus gets a description of the building's entire environmental impact throughout its life cycle. “The results can be presented in different ways, such as total load, load per square meter, which building parts has the biggest environmental impact, and the like.”

The result of the energy calculation in Anavitor and BIM model. Picture: Informationsbyggarna, Peter Carlsson

Recipes ensure quality and save time

The recipes can also be used in other projects. In the example of the interior wall, the classification is already made in Archicad's model and can be used in a new model or an entirely new project. The information is recycled, which results in a more efficient design process.

“When ensuring the quality of the building parts, the architect doesn’t have to search in different lists to look for information or data. Having defined the recipe once, everything is stored in the BIM model, which facilitates the work of future design. The architect saves time.”

Important environmental decisions in the design process

The calculations thus play an important role during the design, in order to ensure the quality from an environmental point of view. By altering the material in the Archicad model, the architect receives a new recipe, a new calculation of the load. It is easy to adjust and adapt the choice of materials in the model's recipe to produce a suitable solution that meets the requirements, for example which material has the greatest impact: glass, metal or wood?

The calculation of the effects on environment is simplified and streamlined thanks to the quality assured recipes in Archicad. These can also be reused and transferred to Anavitor using IFC without data loss. The architect saves time, which can be used to explore different options for the meeting with the client or the project team.

In less than a year, on January 1st, 2022, a law may be passed requiring the developer to submit a climate declaration for each new construction made, a report that Anavitor creates with Archicad as a base.

It shows how useful the amount of information in Archicad's model actually is. Not only is it a tool for design, but also for a number of important applications that can be used as a basis for environmental analysis. It is, especially in our time, a particularly important area and it contributes to future constructions becoming more climate-smart with less negative environmental impact.

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About Love Janson

Love Janson is a communication strategist at ComWise AB. He has a BA degree in communication from Halmstad University.
  • Sweden